Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Happy Holidays and thank you for being a part of our “growing” community! For those of you who were unable to attend the 2009 workshop, here’s a brief recap of our weekend to inform you and – we hope – to encourage you to attend future events at our farm. For those of you who DID attend: thank you! And you’ll want to read on for our take on the weekend and for news about YOU! We’d love to hear from you too. Please visit us at http://www.facebook.com/FeedDenver to share your thoughts, photos, updates and wish lists.

“From the Ground Up” Workshop with Will Allen and Growing Power: a Success!

Up until three weeks ago, the idea of attending a Growing Power workshop in Denver was just a dream for many in the increasing urban agriculture industry, and in our community. Well, the dream became a reality and now we can say for sure, “The Farm has started!” What an amazing weekend it was and we are grateful to the corps of volunteers who gave many hours in planning, preparation and delivery; to the many sponsors who helped us meet our goals; and to Will Allen and Growing Power for committing to this much-needed partnership.

On Friday, November 13, Will Allen gave an inspiring presentation to a group of 100 middle school and high school students from the area. One of the themes that echoed throughout the weekend is that, whether you are talking about food and nutrition reform, healthcare reform or even welfare reform, we MUST make education a priority for ourselves, our families and our communities. At Feed Denver and through our partnership with The Urban Farm at Stapleton, education and outreach will continue to be our focus and our strength.

On Saturday, November 14, a diverse group of over 120 workshop participants (from all over the region, state and surrounding states – even two from NY!) braved the incoming blizzard to soak up the knowledge that Will Allen and his Growing Power outreach team so expertly and generously shared, and to gain the wisdom that only a hands-on experience can elicit. After another impelling presentation by the guru himself that morning, we broke out for the day’s works-of-love:

· Small-scale compost construction using a simple and sustainable 5-pallet , modular system. The compost group broke into three teams and each team hand-built a system using donated carbon materials (wood chips, leaf waste, etc.) and donated nitrogen materials (mostly waste food from hotel and other commercial operations). UPDATE: we are happy to report that Compost Bin #2 is, so far, the most highly successful in terms of internal temperature. Go team! We are certain that the other two bins will catch up and – who knows? – will provide the same nutrient rich soil that is the whole purpose of the exercise: to grow soil.

· Large-scale compost construction utilizing a windrow method and heavy equipment. Once the teams learned the basic compost recipe, it was time to move on to a grander scale. We didn’t offer any lessons in heavy equipment operation though, LOL, and, for some of our participants, none was needed.

· Urban animal husbandry, goat keeping and cheese making. Yummie! Breakout participants in this session learned about the day-to-day operations of goat keeping, milking and animal love with a focus on milking, herdshares, and a taste of pure, fresh organic raw goat’s milk to warm tummies and nourish body and soul.

· Literally “from the ground up” hoop house construction! Workshop participants completed the frame construction of our first hoop house (1000 square feet) using recycled, donated and easily obtainable and affordable materials. Nothing high-tech here, just high-minded, handmade and doable… and did we mention we did this in a blizzard?

· Last but not least, workshop participants began construction of the worm depository by hand-trucking organic compost layers to the site and then celebrating the Introduction of the Worms! As snowflakes fell and stomachs rumbled, we looked upon our work and said, “It is good.” We will be utilizing Growing Power’s method of worms-as-livestock in that the worms are not necessarily used in composting, but they are used for the “higher good” of making potent, nutrient-dense castings for fertilizer and organic effluent for pest control and foliar feeding.

On Saturday night we held our first-ever fundraiser at Fuel CafĂ© in Denver. We enjoyed a delightful turnout (in spite of the mounting snow), to-die-for appetizers and organic wine, and the gift of Will’s company and charisma. AND we had a visit from the Mayor’s office and the Director of Denver Public Health which, in no small way, gives credence and momentum to our efforts. Thank you, everyone, for the pleasure of your company!

On Sunday, November 15, we were pleased and honored to see that our wearied and snow-cold participants had returned almost in full to finish the task of completing the hoop house construction, worm depository and more. Before beginning our day’s work we held a 2-hour long stand-and-be-counted session where all participants were encouraged to individually rise, share with us their personal background, and state their goals for attending the workshop and their hopes for the future. We were BOWLED OVER by the diversity and strength of our group! Our participants included representation from SEVEN universities (both student and faculty), city planners, architects, teachers, current and future farmers, horticulturists/permaculturists, foodies, doctors, lawyers and media specialists.

Included in Sunday’s breakouts were:

· A thoughtful and serious panel discussion covering the future of urban agriculture (“The Locavore’s Conundrum”), the relationship between commercial planning & development and city governments, the State of the Art in current residential developments (“Net-Zero Communities”), and even academic thoughts on art, agriculture and sustainability.

· Completion of the final layers of the worm depository. Will inspected our construction and gave his blessing to what literally is our most valuable “livestock”.

· Completion and skinning of the hoop house. This was probably the most breath-taking event of the weekend: watching a herd of participants hold up the special “skin” (UV wicking poly) and drape it over our future.

· Beekeeping essentials. This was an intense session covering everything beekeeping including start-up, maintenance, the business of honey, and the love of it all.

· Construction of a scaled-down, trial size, modular aquaculture system for the hoop house. A closed-loop system developed by Growing Power, this construct utilizes recycled and found wooden frames, an organic and anti-microbial fish tank lining, and organic “scrubbing” (filtering) plant layers that are fed by the fish and grown by the sun in the greenhouse. Pump power will be generated via solar panels or – on a larger scale – via methane digestion technology which utilizes fish and food waste.


Spanish-language Workshop and Curriculum

One of the exciting programs we are developing is a Spanish-language “From the Ground Up” weekend workshop with Will Allen and Growing Power as well as continuing education and collaborative outreach to Spanish speaking communities in the Denver area. We are currently seeking English-Spanish translators who also have an understanding of construction and agricultural language and concepts.

Women’s Farm Collaboration Project

Will Allen often says in interviews that the future farmers will be women and young people. We find this true in our own team makeup at Feed Denver. We decided to begin planning for a women’s farm to support this. This is a project which focuses on disadvantaged and struggling women in Denver; we hope to provide practical urban agricultural training in a safe space focused on both re-skilling and business management preparation. Child care will be provided as well as access to basic service needs such as a kiosk for government services applications like food stamps and WIC, workforce enrollment and job search resources as well as visits from health professionals for both the women and their children. “Feed Denver” is not just a name: it is our commitment.


Photos of “From the Ground Up” Workshop are Here!

Photos and beautiful faces from our fantastic weekend are now available! Please visit http://photomirage.smugmug.com/ and click on the “Feed Denver with Will Allen” gallery to view photos from the 2009 workshop. Part of the proceeds from the purchase of these photos and collateral merchandise will be made to Feed Denver. Thank you!

New Organic Waste Partners

Just in time for our workshop weekend we found a waste partner in The Food Bank of the Rockies at 47th and Havana. We were short of waste supplies for our compost training and Will Allen looked out from his hotel, The Embassy Suites, and said, "That's where you'll get your best compost materials!" Well, we called and they said, "REALLY?! NO REALLY?! You want our rotten old food?" And they proceeded to give us an entire truck load of onions followed by another of pineapple! Just what we needed.

We are now delighted to announce that next week we will begin receiving ORGANIC PRE-COOKED FOOD WASTE from our neighbors in our Stapleton community: Chipotle Restaurant and Odyssey School! Our partner, Waste Farmers, will facilitate weekly pickup and delivery to our farm.

Waste Farmers is a city wide zero-waste company they collect residential, commercial, and construction waste and find appropriate uses and homes for all of it. You can find them at www.wastefarmers.com, tell John Paul we sent you!

A compost-warm THANK YOU to our friends and neighbors who share our mission! Please contact info@feeddenver.com if you have commercial sized amounts of organic waste to donate on a regular basis.

Feed Denver C.R.EW. Needed

Feed Denver is looking for a C.R.E.W.: Cold Rescue Emergency Workforce. Just like our venerable volunteer fire fighters, we need a corps of volunteers that may be called upon, last-minute, to come out to the farm to feed animals, tend the hoop house and aquaponics systems, and monitor other operations when temperatures sink below freezing. We also need sponsors to provide weather-appropriate clothing like waterproof ski overalls, boots and maybe a hot coffee now and then. Can you help? Please contact info@feeddenver.com to let us know of your interest. Thank you!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Today is the first day of the food revolution of your life.

Have you ever been at a place in your life - or at some time - when everything stood still and you realized in that instant that your world was about to change forever? When you realized that the group of people whom you called "strangers" yesterday would be your Community tomorrow and forever?

I was at that place today. And that WILL BE my community tomorrow.

Today we welcomed (well, I curtseyed) Will Allen and his Growing Power team to our beginnings at Feed Denver! Will and his team arrived for a day of prep work and educational outreach before the kick off of the (sold out) hands-on workshop, "From the Ground Up", starting tomorrow and running through the weekend at our place of residence at The Urban Farm at Stapleton.

Today Colleen Brown and Jordan Stone, the sparkling duo from Growing Power, were busy cutting lengths of lumber for the construction of our demonstration aquaculture and aquaponics greenhouse systems, hoop house construction, worm depository and more. We Feed Denver-ers, an enthusiastic crew of volunteers who've been working for weeks and months on the project, were busy assisting Will and his team, setting up for the workshop, making runs for food and supplies, placing last-minute phone calls and emails and truly BONDING with each other like we'd all discovered the secret to life and happiness: working together to feed Denver and to make a difference. Lisa Rogers, Feed Denver's Founder and Executive Director, made herself available to everyone. Her mantra today - "I just say okay!" - was the best directive I've ever received and sealed my conviction that this was The Day That Life Changed Forever.

Later in the morning, when Will had graciously turned the phone over to me and allowed me to hook up with Ming, his social media guru at Growing Power, I had the pleasure of a few moments with him to ask about his thoughts for the day:

"It's great to be here at Feed Denver's new urban farm. We look forward to assisting you in the development of this farm and its infrastructure. We look forward to educating and training the folks in the Denver metro and regional area - and the surrounding states - who are taking part in this workshop. We hope that our outreach will foster the growth of small-scale enterprises that will ultimately provide food to this area. We want to engage and encourage the community to bring in more local food and to become part of the larger food system and, mostly, to help grow The Good Food Revolution."

A revelation: it's a revolution. A Food Revolution... has begun.

Jan Dillon is creator of City Farmer(tm) and Social Media Consultant to Feed Denver

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"From the Ground Up" Growing Power Workshop Weekend

We are so please to be able to announce our first workshop: “From the Ground Up”
A Workshop Weekend featuring MacArthur Fellow Will Allen & the Growing Power Regional Outreach Training Team.

November 14-15, 2009
Saturday: 8am-5pm, Sunday 9am-3pm
Cost(includes 5 meals): $275 early registration, $300 after Oct. 15th

Register at http://www.feeddenver.com/

This two-day, intensive, hands-on workshop will show how sustainable, healthy local food production can be developed in an urban setting with urban farming pioneer and winner of the MacArthur Foundation “genius grant,” Will Allen.

This training offers diverse groups the opportunity to learn, plan, develop, operate and sustain community food projects. Participants leave the workshop with improved skills that they can take back into their communities and pass on to others. These workshops are for both rural and urban projects.

Workshop breakout sessions may include:
Compost & Vermicompost · Aquaponics · Hoophouse Construction · Urban Animal Husbandry
Planning for Urban Agriculture · Community Project Design

Feed Denver: Urban Farms & Markets builds community-based urban greenhouse farms and markets
to improve year-round access to fresh food, create training opportunities and jobs for youth and adults,
support food production micro-enterprise all of which impact our local economy
while strengthening and securing the foodshed of Metropolitan Denver.

Hosting the Weekend: The Urban Farm at Stapleton is hosting this project. The largest 4H program in Colorado, TUF is an oasis in the city of Denver. On 23 acres this education center serves over 4,000 kids a year by introducing and engaging them with horses, cows, sheep, goats, llama, alpaca, chickens, turkeys and a few guinea fowl. Their mission is to improve the lives of children living in high-risk, urbanized neighborhoods by helping create a sense of positive self-regard and self-reliance, a strong work ethic, and hope.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Holly Just Humming Along

The Holly Farm is certainly holding its own. This summer's wild afternoon storms have bypassed our wee farm at 33rd and Holly leaving only small signs of hail visits. The tomato plants are a bit shell shocked from all of the rain, though, but they are happily producing their fruit. Here are some of the latest photos. Our second harvest produced another 6 pounds of lettuce, cabbage, kale, chard, and herbs plus the first tomato!

Feed Denver Office at The Urban Farm at Stapleton

Since we will be doing a lot of work at The Urban Farm at Stapleton we decided it would be a good idea to just office out there! We are moving in to a back room to be near the action as we begin the Soil Farm. That will lead to a greenhouse growing produce and hopefully fish through a vertical growing aquaculture program.

Here are a few pictures of the Urban Farm:

Compost Doesn't Just Happen!

Feed Denver, The Urban Farm at Stapleton, and Waste Farmers are beginning the first stage of the Metropolitan Denver Community Food Project by beginning to farm soil because...it doesn't just happen! Okay, it does... but maybe not in a way that can be organized to create the new soil needed to build the farms that will grow the food that we hope to be eating in Denver.

This project will take place at The Urban Farm on their fabulous 23 acre spread on the Stapleton greenbelt. After eleven years in this location they have accumulated a mountain of manure...and it keeps coming everyday as they have a vibrant program teaching and caring for livestock right here in the city. They work with families and children to teach them about animals and farming.

Feed Denver will join The Urban Farm to create a program based on the Growing Power vermiculture program to create healthy fertile soil using vermicompost techniques. Vermicompost...that means worms! We will be breeding worms to clean and fertilize the soil. Did you know worms can be used for bioremediation of soil, reducing contaminants by up to 98%? And they do not retain any contaminants in their bodies! Pathogens, such as E. coli, are killed in the worm's gut while worm castings (that's worm poop, to you!) help fight a variety of plant diseases and can protect against certain insects. Worms are amazing!

This is all very exciting, but we will need more compost materials than just manure. We are working with Waste Farmers to gather organic matter from all over Denver. We will be using coffee grounds, beer mash, pre-cooked vegetable waste from restaurants and grocery stores, wood chips and sawdust, leaves and hay. It is absolutely amazing how all of this just naturally becomes rich, fertile soil!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Holly Farm Grows

Planting Seedlings, May 2009

Time for first harvest, June 16, 2009

First Harvest for Holly Farm

In late May we planted a demonstration farm at 33rd and Holly in the North East Park Hill neighborhood. Today we had our first harvest! We gleaned six pounds of lettuce, cabbage and herbs from our four raised beds in front of Sanchez Taqueria. The food was shared with the Sanchez family as well as passing neighbors as well as donated to The Gathering Place community food kitchen.

Blue and Yellow Logic Joins Feed Denver at the June Growing Power Training

Denver is growing more than just food these days, it is growing coalitions. These coalitions are realizing the strength of joining forces can assist our various missions in the way that nature grows many plants in one place to create symbiotic relationships of interdependancy. We are interdependant and we will be stronger and healthier if we embrace that.

When Growing Power announced an extra training weekend for 2009 in June we jumped at the chance to be a part of it. We reached out to others in our community to gather a coalition from Denver to join in the training. We were pleased to be able to travel with Ashara Ekundayo and Kendra Sandoval of Blue and Yellow Logic. Ashara and Kendra are working with Denver youth to introduce them to the new "Green" industries. In their wisdom they know that green is made of many colors as well as many layers of activity. In addition to evaluating and addressing energy needs of our homes they are addressing urban agriculture as an valuable skill, honorable job, attractive business and that it is a needed industry for the health of our community.

The weekend was fantastic! And we look forward to our relationship continuing as we grow this coalition of people dedicated to a better Denver.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Urban Agriculture Coalitions

There is an amazing buzz in Denver about Urban Agriculture as a key to sustainability of our city. We have been involved in a number of great activities and forums and have begun partnering with some amazing partners to create a coalition to address the sustainability of our food systems.

Sustainable Food System Partners
We have formed a partnership with The Urban Farm at Stapleton as well as Denver Public Health to strengthen our outreach as well as to pull together the strongest coalition to address the issues we are all focused on. With the Urban Farm we have created the Metropolitan Denver Food Systems Project which teams us with Growing Power, Denver Public Health, Denver Environmental Health, Denver Public Schools, Denver Urban Gardens, Denver Botanic Gardens, and Waste Farmers to create a Regional Training Center at Stapleton.

Grow Local Colorado
We are on the committee for Grow Local Colorado as well as SPROUT (Sustainable People Reaching Out fro Urban Transformation). We have joined forces with Grow Local to plant an edible garden in Civic Center Park.

Bring on the New $5.5 Billion Urban Agriculture Industry

The most compelling information:
The Bad News - currently Colorado produces less than 1% of our food needs. If our sources were cut off we would have less than a week of food supplies. This is not a healthy position to be in. Most of it comes from 2,000 - 6,000 miles away. That's a carbon and security nightmare!

The Good News - in the Denver Metro Area our food purchasing power is $5.7 Billion. This means we send $5.5 Billion dollars away by purchasing all of our food from an average of 2,000 miles away. We can do better than this!

Urban Ag Summit

Denver's Office of Community Sustainability Invites Feed Denver to Speak

In March, Feed Denver was invited to speak to Denver city officials about Urban Agriculture. Although it was impromptu it is now being referred to as "The Summit." We pulled together a number of people and organizations already active in food production in the city to show how it looks and why it's needed.

Among those present were Denver Public Health, Denver Urban Gardens, and Heirloom Gardens. We spoke to individuals from community sustainability, community planning and development, zoning, environmental health, animal control, Greenprint Denver and Denver Water. (We were later invited to speak to the Mayor's Office of Economic Development.)

The reaction was mighty!

The Message
We communicated how urban agriculture is very different from the image we all have of large, industrial ag in rural areas. Urban ag is limited by land availability and the closeness to residences and businesses. This will make urban agriculture unique in its look and production methods. It will also create a completely new industry in the city of locally produced food and food products.
  • The carbon footprint will be close to zero as distribution needs drop due to proximity.
  • In limited space agriculture goes bio-intensive and vertical, using every inch of space available.
  • The only way to do this is to use organic techniques.
  • Year round production in enclosed spaces will be a key to our sustainability.
  • We will need to grow an abundance of food inside to be protected from weather.
  • We will need to develop appropriate sized food producing animals to serve our protein needs.

Feed Denver Team Trains with Will Allen at Growing Power

In March the Feed Denver & Friends team visited Milwaukee to train with WillAllen and the whole team at Growing Power. We took courses from Compostingand Vermiculture to Growing Greens to Building a Fish Run to BusinessPlanning. We got our hands dirty and dug right in. We had greatconversations, made amazing contacts, and absorbed as much as we possiblycould (which wasn't too difficult as it was a very wet, rainy weekend!) Andit was fantastic! (Enjoy the photos to the right

We were nervous our grand plans would be scrapped after seeing how it allactually works but the opposite happened. We learned that this is a do-ableproject! We are so excited to get started now. We are exploring potentiallocations for the first farms and hope to secure them soon. We are writinggrants furiously to raise the funds to see these dreams become a reality.
While in Milwaukee we discussed the possiblity of working with Growing Powerto establish a Regional Training Center here in Denver with theirassistance. We are now working towards this opportunity and hope to make ita reality.

Back row: Patrick Harrington (Vital Farm/Vital Yoga), Will Allen (Growing Power), Aaron Makaruk (Vital Farm), Crystal Cervantes (Feed Denver)Front row: Jennifer Weiczorek (Denver Public Health), Lisa Rogers (Feed Denver), Sarah Gabriel (Feed Denver)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Eat Here Now Panel at Mercury Cafe

“Eat Here Now – Growing Food in Denver”

A Panel on the Growth of Urban Agriculture

Come join a few “movers and shakers” in the local food movement, and explore answers to some of the following questions:

What is Community Supported Agriculture, and how is it playing out
within the city limits? How can we grow more healthy food locally and get it distributed in effective ways? How can we use gardening techniques that are affordable, sustainable and use less resources? And much, much more……..

Panelists include:

Andy Nowak – Slow Food Denver

Deb Shaefer - Denver Urban Gardens

Ellen Rosenthal – Living Earth Center

Lisa Rogers and Tom Sorenson – Feed Denver

Faatma Mahremanesh – Solarlivity

James Hale – Produce Denver

Debbie Dalrymple - Sense of Colorado

Jim Sincock – Rocky Mountain Grower’s Directory

Transition Denver is a group of local citizens who have joined the rapidly-growing, worldwide Transition Initiative Movement (www.transitiontowns.org). Transition Initiatives empower communities from the grassroots level to squarely face the challenges of peak oil, climate change and financial instability and find ways to collectively and drastically reduce carbon emissions, significantly rebuild resilience and strengthen our local economies.

This event is one of a series of Transition Denver events called Transition Tuesdays.

Contact Dana Miller at 303-300-3547 for details, or visit www.transitioncolorado.ning.com for information about this event or about Transition Denver, as well as the other Transition Initiatives springing up in Colorado and other cities around the United States.