Sunday, May 17, 2009

Summer Fun and Food

Do you love spring in Denver? I do. I can't get enough of the smell of flowers (especially the lilacs!), the new leaves on all the trees: that fresh, beautiful green color everywhere you look. I love watching people come out of their houses and apartments, spending time talking with neighbors on their porches and sidewalks, and riding bicycles around town.

Folks are starting to plant: tomatoes and flowers, peppers, corn, beans, collards, and all kinds of good veggies at gardens all over town. My new baby peach tree even has some teeny green peaches!

I especially want to give a shout-out to the EastSide Growers Collective, starting up a brand new community garden at 35th and Elm with all POC (People Of Color) gardeners. Y'all are awesome!

And this summer, the lovely and wonderful GreenLeaf folks are launching our first three projects:

1. Farm Days: We will be spending 6 days this summer at Delaney Farm in Aurora, working with youth volunteers from CityWILD and other programs to help the Delaney farmers grow food. We'll be doing a mix of farm work and other fun stuff--workshops, games, community lunches, hopefully even a Family Feast at the end of the summer!

2. Garden2Garden Organizing: Together with young people and community members, the wonderful and amazing GreenLeaf community advisory board (CAB) will be canvassing neighborhoods in NE Denver (including Cole, Whittier, Five Points, and Skyland). We'll be going from Garden to Garden, talking to neighbors about the food they grow, what they like to eat, and inviting folks to get involved with GreenLeaf, especially our delicious dinners…

3. Supper Clubbin' GreenLeafers will be hosting Supper Clubs all over town at our homes, parks, and gardens. We'll be serving delicious and nutritious homegrown foods, having fun, maybe even watching some movies. It'll be a great chance for folks to come together, get involved and invested in GreenLeaf, and of course: eat and enjoy. Stay tuned for more details.

Finally, lately I've been reading The Green Collar Economy by Van Jones, and I'm inspired. He writes about real solutions for what he calls our country's two biggest problems: radical socioeconomic inequality and rampant environmental destruction.

Building a green collar economy by transforming our economy, cities, and lives in simple and fundamental ways can resolve these problems--If we do it in a way that recognizes shared herstories of oppression and privilege, and by creating a movement that truly belongs to everyone. Jones writes, "The fact is, if we do wind up with some version of eco-apartheid in the United States and the industrial countries, it will be because good people who knew better simply failed to do better."

But we can do better, and we are working on it every day. It's fundamental to what we're doing at GreenLeaf. By mobilizing the tremendous assets of our city--the energy, intelligence and power of young people, and the vacant land and open spaces, to name only two--we are revitalizing our communities at the same time that we repair and protect our planet.

Van Jones reminds us of our own power to create solutions: "If we stand for change, we can spark a popular movement with power, influence, magic, and genius. We won't just have the movement we have always wanted. We will have the country we have always wanted--and the world for which our hearts have longed."

Of course, each of us is already powerful on our own--and we are exponentially more powerful when we get together. Post a response or send an e-mail, and get involved!

Resistance is fertile,


GreenLeaf is...

Creating social change through urban agriculture and sustainable infrastructure.

Urban agriculture and sustainable infrastructure can provide many benefits to urban communities, by providing safe, healthy, and green environments in neighborhoods, by involving city dwellers in healthy, active, and fun work, and because the more experience people have growing food, the more likely they are to eat it. As energy and food prices continue to rise, communities, particularly in urban centers, are struggling and health is declining. The current food system is not sustainable in any aspect from production to distribution. Industrial agriculture is heavily dependent on oil and is ecologically devastating to our land, lakes, rivers, and oceans. Many people lack adequate access to healthy, affordable, fresh food. However, there is a unique opportunity to build sustainable infrastructure in Denver by paying youth a fair wage to grow healthy food locally and organically, and provide it to city residents at affordable prices.

Vacant lots turned into green, growing urban farms. Young people cultivating land in the city, working hard and getting paid to grow food for neighborhood residents. Youth taking leadership roles in their communities, working together to build a just society.

GreenLeaf is seeking to:

• Create a thoughtful and productive community of youth and adults from diverse backgrounds to build sustainable food systems and infrastructure

• Engage youth with leadership and employment opportunities

• Inspire and support others to create change in urban communities

• Produce and distribute affordable, healthy food for residents of cities and suburbs

• Build, expand, and increase access to sustainable infrastructure

Sustainable Infrastructure: In addition to learning skills in urban farming, youth crews will participate in leadership, diversity, nutrition, and social justice workshops to cultivate the confidence and knowledge to create change within their communities. Youth will have the opportunity to connect with local green-focused businesses to learn skills in installing solar panels and other energy technologies, green roofs, composting, resource conservation, and water use. Youth will be supported in providing trainings to community members on how to employ these skills at home.


• Justice, equity, diversity

• Care for people and the environment

• Conserve and reuse resources

GreenLeaf is committed to social justice as the driving force of this project. This includes employing a non-hierarchical organizational structure in order to breakdown oppressive power dynamics and building into our operations meaningful methods of communication and accountability.

Leah Bry at
Lisa Knoblauch at

you ARE what you EAT
EAT what you GROW