As we gear up for our second annual Urban Farmers & Vegetable Gardeners Symposium we are evaluating what makes a successful urban farmers. One of this year's keynote speakers, Gary Nabhan, has coined the term "caring capacity" to challenge us to look at our work in farming from a wider view. Some may use the terms triple-bottom line or people-planet-profits, but the point is the same. Resources must go both ways. As farmers learn about their land and use resources to successfully produce food they must also look up and around. What is their place in their community of both people and nature. How are they a part of the cultures surrounding them?
Every new project challenges us to evaluate the "caring capacity" of our work. We not only grow food appropriate to our climate and environment but also foods that are recognized by those coming to our markets as well as foods recognized and sought out by our farmers. All of this within the culture of old Denver neighborhoods that are curious about these new food producing operations. Nothing we do is in isolation so we might as well reach out our arms to embrace our circle of influence.
Please consider continuing to support our efforts to develop successful urban farmers.
It was a long hot summer in Denver with a short harvest season. Sometimes things just go that way. We plan for the best, prepare for the worst, and take what comes with gratitude. Our Feed Denver community steward farmers model this. They live lives of challenge and have experienced some pretty bad times but they have learned to be scrappy, helpful, and hopeful.
They are an inspiration to me when I get despondent. Dilli and Nahrmaya are a 46 year old couple relocated here from a refugee camp in Nepal. Due to political wrangling they – and their entire community – were made to leave their home in Bhutan but they had nowhere to go. They tried Nepal but were sent away so they went to India. India didn’t want them and trucked them back to Nepal…by the thousands. After 20 years the UN decided to relocate them around the world. It was our blessing to get Dilli and Nahrmaya…and Iccha, Hima, Chuda, Abi, Shiva, Dahdi, Beda, Krishna, and Hari.
Every day Dilli welcomes me to the farm with the latest English greeting he’s learned. Nahrmaya smiles wide and sometimes hugs us. Farming, even through our small program, reconnects them to what they know. They meet neighbors to our farms and wave. Often visitors speak Spanish to them which makes them smile. Dilli and Nahrmaya want to farm. They want to use the skills they’ve developed their whole lives, even in refugee camps, not only to supplement their diets but to create livelihoods. That’s why we do what we do at Feed Denver.
When the struggles of building up our nascent urban farming education program weigh me down, when the fundraising challenges seem so vast, I go to the farm and weed or water or harvest next to our inspiring farmers. The season is over now although our work is not as we develop our winter projects and gear our attention to end of year fundraising campaigns. Please keep us in mind and support our program when you consider the programs you will support your donations.
This summer has been full so far as we've built our newest farm at 44th & Vallejo. In less than 5 weeks we've transformed an abandoned lot in the Sunnyside neighborhood into an oasis of herbs and vegetables. This was all thanks to the skills and energy of our team of New American Farmers and our urban farming specialist and Director of Production, Ariel Chesnutt. We begin our market August 10th and will continue each Wednesday through the autumn.
May somehow snuck up on us! We've had our heads down working in the hoophouse and planning our outside beds for the season.
We have great news this Spring, we are adding a new farm to the Sunnyside Neighborhood at 44th & Vallejo. This will extend our reach further down the I-70 food desert corridor increasing our production to three farms.
We are also adding a mobile farm market this summer which will allow us to take our produce deeper into the neighborhoods increasing fresh food access to those with little choice in their own communities.
Keep an eye on our newsletters as we will be announcing the opening of our farm markets and stops for our mobile market.
Thank you for your support and encouragement.
All the blessings of Springtime!
From the staff and farmers at Feed Denver: Urban Farms & Markets
It's true, winter has barely touched us in Denver so far this year. But we can certainly see the changes now that the days are getting longer. We've kept winter beds - bok choi, spinach, onions - which have hibernated with the long nights and cold temperatures at night. They are perking up and promising a verdant spring harvest.
Over the winter we have uber-insulated our hoophouse with passive solar and thermal mass techniques. We are now redesigning them for spring planting and getting a jump on starts for our fields. Our compost program is coming along as we've had a great run with Metro CareRing gathering their waste vegetables through the fall. Our team of Bhutanese farmers have also built us some fantastic sheds.
Thank you again for your support. We hope to see you as the year marches forward.
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