August 18, 2014

Gabrielle’s Garden helps Denver’s large food desert

By: Helena Stallings, Culinary Arts Student

The definition of a food desert is an urban environment where it is difficult to source good, local food and although Denver is located near several farms within 100 miles, it is still considered to be a large food desert. In particular, low income urban areas are in the worst shape, since food assistance programs only really seem to cover pre-packaged and processed foods. Within the last year the childhood obesity levels in our country have sky rocketed and if you ask a middle schooler where their food comes from, you will probably receive a confused look and ‘Wal*Mart’ as your answer. However with funding from local sources and a strong volunteer base, Urbiculture Community Farms is doing everything they can to transform run down food deserts, into sustainable community gardens.

Sustainable community at Gabrielle’s Garden

Located in the heart of Denver and nuzzled up against the Sante Fe Arts District, Gabrielle’s Garden, one of many Urbiculture gardens, is an oasis in the Sahara. The small garden was constructed in an abandoned lot and is surrounded by a very low income homes. The small operation is run by only handful of full and part time volunteers, and the artistic decor has been donated by various local artists, including an art program geared around helping high school dropouts achieve their dreams of being artists. The minute you arrive at the location all you see is beauty amongst the decay. Inside the garden there are several raised beds loaded with every kind of vegetable imaginable and in some beds there are multiple varieties of veggies. The sea of green leaves spilling out of every nook and cranny, and the hushed buzz of insects was such a calming sensation compared to the hustle and bustle of the city around us.

Gabrielle’s Garden

Gabrielle’s Garden not only has a farm stand that only charges people what they can afford, i.e suggested donations, but they are teaming up with local schools to start community gardens at the school. It is the younger generations that are inheriting our broken food system and it is their health that we are sacrificing. So in order to really make a difference, we need to involve the younger generations and show them where their food comes from and how to grow it. More and more children are being diagnosed with diabetes and the solution to that epidemic is to provide them with fresh, local food. The more our children rely on pre-packaged, processed food the more health related issues will arise, and the broken cycle will continue. Gabrielle’s Garden may not be a large scale operation set out to change the system over night, but they are saying that there is an problem and they are taking the steps to make a difference for our current and future generations.

crops from Gabrielle’s Garden Escoffier students visit Gabrielle’s Garden

 

Gabrielle’s Garden organic farm stand