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Garden Guardians: A Closely “Garded” Secret

Okay, so it’s not really a secret, but it’s not exactly common knowledge either. Turns out there is a merry band of earthy custodians who play a sort of collective Robin Hood to the land. They sift through the soil, preparing it for seed, giving of themselves to watch something grow.

“Something happens to a person who is empowered to grow food for themselves, and more so for other people,” says Candice Orlando, executive director of UrbiCulture Community Farms. “The knowledge they gain from being a Garden Guardian will hopefully be repaid by teaching others, eating healthier, building community and much more.”

UrbiCulture Community Farms is a multi-plot farm committed to providing food to people of all income levels by sustainably growing affordable, local food in the Denver metro area. It strives to promote healthy and active lifestyles, beautifying neighborhoods with edible landscapes, and lessening the distance from farm to plate.

And that’s where the Garden Guardians come in. Depending on weather, they start in May and work until October. Currently, people are selected from the Denver area and the only real requirement is dedication and a desire to learn how to grow food for the community. Guardians work roughly five to 10 hours a week and are usually assigned to gardens closest to where they live, with numerous plots to choose from in the Sunnyside neighborhood and off the I-25 and Colorado corridor.

In addition to learning about soil health, planting, harvesting, pest control, and organic farming, guardians receive a share of produce and get free bike maintenance at Salvagetti’s bike shop. And then there are the more esoteric, deeper benefits.

“They begin to see where their food comes from,” says Orlando. “They become stewards for the earth as they begin to see the interconnectedness of light, pollinators, soil, water, and worms to grow food, community and eating healthier.”

For more information, contact UrbiCulture Community Farms at 303.949.2901 or e-mail Candice@urbiculturecommunityfarms.org.

Garden Guardians Specifics

Outcomes

  1. Perpetuate a non-monetary mechanism of exchange of goods and services.
  2. Increasing the amount of people educated about urban, organic gardening and the work of an urban farmer.
  3. Increase the number of Garden Guardians.
  4. Repeat Garden Guardians.
  5. Increase those who are urban farm ambassadors to the community.
  6. Garden Guardian to promote to Garden Guardian coordinator.
  7. Increase efficiency and efficacy of UCCF urban farming.

Program Process

  1. An interested person contacts UCCF about becoming a Garden Guardian.
  2. A program staff member interviews the candidate.
  3. If the candidate is right for the position, then he/she begins training with a program staff.
  4. The Garden Guardian is trained in soil health, planting, harvesting, pest control, organic farming and more.
  5. Once the Garden Guardian is trained, he/she is assigned a yard or two to maintain that is close to where they live to encourage biking.
  6. Bike maintenance is offered for free for Garden Guardians through Salvagetti’s bike shop.
  7. Garden Guardian works five-ten hours a week weeding, watering, harvesting and watching for pests and fungus.

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