Grow & Gather was built for summer—literally. The hydroponic farm/urban garden/market/greenhouse/restaurant was created to show off Colorado’s bounty, from grapefruit-size heirloom tomatoes to gleaming sweet peppers. “Everything we ever dreamed of is now,” Grow & Gather founder George Gastis says. “We’re running on all cylinders with the summer produce.”
The Englewood food hybrid opened last winter, on a compact chunk of Hampden Avenue that seems unlikely to have so much green going on. But green it is, with a mind boggling amount of grow space jammed into the longtime former home of Bill’s Auto Service.
First, there are 360 tightly packed hydroponic towers growing so many lettuces and herbs that they equal the output of a 1.5-acre dirt farm. There’s a rooftop greenhouse sporting 50 strung-up tomato plants (there are 78 more growing in Gastis’ quarter-acre backyard across the street), and containers and tubs filled with ripening eggplant, beets, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, radishes, and more. Then, there are grow beds of herbs and flowers that line the greenhouse perimeter, making for a useful—and pretty—retaining wall. And inside, tucked in a room behind the hydroponic farm, are shelves of greens, just waiting to make it onto your plate.
“We’re trying to make as much of the space as possible,” Gastis says. “We’re growing as much as we can in this confined environment.”
Gastis’s original concept didn’t involve Grow & Gather’s restaurant, the Feedery, but was rather intended as a space where he could expand his gardening hobby to grow vegetables and flowers to sell to local Englewood spots. But, after moving to Englewood from Platt Park and missing having places to walk to for coffee, dinner, or a beer, Gastis decided to create one himself, featuring the produce from Grow & Gather.
Now, the Feedery slices up its bounty for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The menu includes heirloom tomato and basil salads, veggie pot pie, BLTs with green goddess aïoli, and the freshest-ever chimichurri sauce—delicious with the bison steak frites available at dinnertime.
The Feedery’s drink offerings follow a similar local ethos, with beers from down-the-street Dead Hippie Brewing; cocktails made with local whiskey and vodka; and wine from Palisade’s Sauvage Spectrum. There’s plenty of seating for outside dining on the sunny patio and on the rooftop, next to the greenhouse, both perfect spots for happy hour and weekend brunch. When the weather cools, there’s an airy, well-spaced dining room for those who feel comfortable eating indoors.
If you make it there on Friday, September 25, you’ll catch Grow & Gather’s final farmers’ market of the season (typically a monthly affair), where you can pick up goods from a handful of local growers and makers in addition to Grow & Gather’s own harvest. The everyday indoor market there sells produce and homemade sauces, grab-and-go items from the Feedery, and lots of other local goods, too, including On the Fence kombuchas, Trompeau Bakery pastries, and Middle State Coffee drinks.
Grow & Gather’s model of a same-site farm, market, and restaurant is rare, but Gastis’ down-to-earth practicality cuts through any potential pretentiousness—all you get is a passionate gardener sharing his extras with his neighbors.
“We don’t want to be preachy,” Gastis says. “We’ve tried really hard to not make this another place that’s only appealing to people with lots of money. There’s a premium that comes with good, local food, but we try to keep it cost competitive. We want to make it approachable and inviting to anyone, regardless of who they are or where they come from.”
The Feedery at Grow & Gather is open Tuesday–Saturday, 9 a.m.–9 p.m., and Sunday, 9 a.m.–4 p.m. The Grow & Gather market is open Tuesday–Sunday, 8 a.m.–4 p.m.; 900 E. Hampden Ave., Englewood