Jun 28, 2016

10 Long Years

Happy Harvest,

 

This year, Jovial Gardens launched a new neighborhood team in Arvada and has helped 6 schools launch seed-to-table programs or garden clubs. On our journey, we have been honored to meet Jane and John (names changeds for privacy). John worked with agricultural giant Conagra and his dad brought him up farming. John loves the outdoors, but mostly he loves gardening.

John kept up a beautiful garden for Jane, he taught his kids to grow their food and how to make a salad out of their backyard. Jane told us how they had the prittiest yard around and how talented her husband was, but then age caught up with him and gardening was out of the question. John is 86 years old and Jane isn't far behind. Then John got teary eyed and Jane took my hand, they said thank you so many times.

It had been 10 long years since there had been a garden in their yard,  Jane told me how happy John is everytime he walks outside and sees the little seedlings. They love watering the garden together and seein the neighborhood kids come over and dig and eat from their soil.

"This has just been a wonderful opportunity" Jane squealed. John is teaching gardening to the youth, Jane helps water, and the younger folk help care for the garden. The Jovial team couldn't be happier to have brought gardening back to Jane and John's life with our programming.

We couldn't have made John's dream come true without your support and donations. Thank you sincerely, and we hope you will continue to support Jovial as she continues to expand and build community.

Apr 20, 2016

What would make our school better?

Muddy Field
Muddy Field

Jovial Concepts started working with Kyffin Elementary school 3 months ago when we recieved a call from a 5th grade student. "We want to create a garden at our school" said a small voice on the other side of the line. A few weeks later I was standing on the flood plane that is their muddy field and looking at the open space behind. The field is small and due to lack of funds for upkeep, frequently becomes a mud pit. To keep the mud to a minimum, students can only use the field a couple of days per week.

7 student counsil students took my hand and lead me around their school. Each one took the time to talk about why they wanted to create a school garden and what it meant for their school. In 2015 the student counsil surveyed their fellow students asking "What would make our school better?"

They said the most common response was having healthier school lunches and better cafeteria options. Marie told me that she saw the garden as a way to educate her classmates about healthy food. She thought that getting kids to visit the garden would increase excercise and their understanding of the food in their lunch. Brett told me that there is only junk food options in their cafeteria, having a garden would allow the creation of a salad bar. He hoped students would even get to take part in prepping the food. "I want to to learn how to cut carrotts and tomatoes!!" he exclaimed while hopping towards the playground.

As we walked around the student's sports field, Kimmy told me that she wanted to be a leader for her school. She wanted to make it better in a way that would be remembered years after she moved on. She said, "The garden should be beautiful and make everyone feel invited." She wants to create an aesthetic hub for her peers to hang out- outside of the murky, muddy field. She wanted her school to look like it was cared for and loved. Mike chimed in that maybe having a garden would help the field. He said, "gardens need a lot of water!" He proposed that we install the garden where the water comes down, this way we could water the garden less and save the field.

Jesse, told me his best friend was a vegitarian. He says he worries about her because she doesn't eat lunch on chicken nugget day. He knows her familiy doesn't have a lot of money and she doesn't eat much at home either. He said having a salad bar would mean that his best friend eats something everyday.

The whole team at Jovial Concepts was moved by the sincerity and good will of the Kyffin students. We cannot wait to break ground on their garden. We currently have the layout, location picked, school district and city approval, and the cinder block beds ordered. We hope to have the garden and irrigation system installed by Mother's day (in the exact place Mike reccomended).

The same students will be speaking this week to Jefferson County Food Action Policy Team about their project. They will be presenting in front of the Mayor, City officials, Government Employees, and those who make the deciscions on school lunch regulations. We couldn't be more proud of this 100% student run garden initiative.

Mar 30, 2016

Spring Is Here...and We're Growing!

Puns about "growing" abound in our business, and here at Jovial Concepts, we welcome them gladly! For us, 2015 was a year of growth in many unexpected ways, and 2016 looks to be no different. Your support has allowed the Jovial Gardens program to evolve beyond our goals, and while we feel encouraged by our progress, there is still much work to do when it comes to fighting food insecurity in Colorado. We are continually looking for ways to further extend our outreach efforts, and ultimately, elevate our community.

To this end, we are pleased to announce our partnership with local heroes, Feeding Many, Inc., and their community orchard. We will be providing key support for their programs, and Feeding Many will be supplementing our community contribution of organic "super food" veggies and herbs, with fresh apples, pears, plums, peaches, grapes, berries, and melons. And, with six gardens (and counting!), the Arvada Elderberries are our first official neighborhood expansion project!

Our mission is to provide the food insecure with increased access to fresh, organic produce, and to unify communities around the common goal of sustainability by fostering creative solutions to resource independence. And, the numbers say we are doing just that! In 2015, we tended to 7100 sqare feet of lawn, backyard and other public space. This was provided by dozens of Lakewood, Wheatridge, and Edgewater residents. Through the dedicated efforts of over 400 volunteers (and their combined donation of over 2,000 hours time, and sweat equity), we were able to donate 4022 lbs. of fresh produce to local families, food banks. and individuals.

But we provided much more than just volunteer opportunities and fresh produce! When polled, 84%of participants said they had a new understanding about managing organic waste and supporting local food insecurity through participation in our program. In effect, we use the gardens to provide classes and job training which support overall community growth. This Spring, we are also proud to welcome four Metropolitan State University Health Sciences students to our Jovial Gardens internship program. 

For our efforts, the City of Lakewood has chosen us to be a representative of local sustainability. This Spring, we are expanding in to new neighborhoods in Denver and Arvada and have over 50 garden plots with nearly 13,000 square feet of space to tend to! With that increase in garden space, and our recent partnership with Feed Many, we hope to double our production and donate over 8000 pounds of fresh food to the under-served in our communities. However, we cannot maintain our momentum without your continued support.

If you are interested in volunteering or getting involved please email info@jovialconcepts.org or call 303-578-2569.

And, please visit our partners at Feed Many, Inc. www.feedmany.org

Thank you for helping Jovial Concepts grow!

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