Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Our finished sign, painted by GreenLeaf!

The third week of the summer program focused on the theme of justice. In-between weeding, watering, and fertilizing the farm, the GreenLeaf crew discussed how to address justice issues, especially food justice. The excellent facilitators of the week Amadou and Andrew led us in discussion of GreenLeafʻs role in creating more just and equitable access to fresh produce, and how the philosophy of the organization is shaped by our commitment to justice.

We also had an opportunity to share new insights and stories in a special activity: a mini hunger banquet during snack
time. GreenLeaf interns and staff became symbols of global food and income distribution, with most of the crew only receiving rice for snack, few receiving rice and nuts, and one lucky person receiving a deli sandwich and strawberries. Each group represented a slice of the world: rice eaters were low-income, rice and nuts eaters were middle-income, and the sandwich eater was high income. As the snack was passed out and the meaning of the different groups explained, students shared their experiences and knowledge of global and local hunger and need. It was incredible to hear the backgrounds and histories of GreenLeaf individuals and their families, many of whom have endured great struggles that include hunger. In sharing the group became stronger, as we now understand each other a little more than before. Many thanks to all the brave GreenLeaf interns and staff who took a risk and willingly participated in this experience.

Working on the farm as Bryant Terry arrives!

Thanks to all of the exploration and reflection on food justice, GreenLeaf was ready to welcome some very special guests to Mini Eden this past Friday. Denver YouthBiz and vegan chef Bryant Terry came to visit our farm to learn what we do and how we do it! We welcomed about 20 YouthBiz interns to learn and have fun with us, and the GreenLeaf interns led the entire group through a quote discussion, two games, and a tour of the farm. The YouthBiz students asked insightful questions about how the farm operated, and were great participants in all the awesome activities the GreenLeaf interns led. Bryant Terry also participated in the games and tour, and had some inspiring words for all the youth about the importance of taking lead and fighting for food justice everywhere. It was truly an amazing event with opportunities for GreenLeaf to grow (and show off a bit!) together.

YouthBiz, GreenLeaf and Bryant Terry

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sustainability week

The theme for week two at GreenLeaf was sustainability, and students and staff discussed defining sustainability, how we can make our organization sustainable, and how we as individuals can live in a sustainable way. One of the sustainability-themed daily quotes by Ghandi generated an interesting debate about need versus greed: “Our world has enough for each persons need, but not for his greed”. What do we each truly need, and at what point does a person become greedy? Some fascinating and thought-provoking points were raised, and I was impressed with how deeply and critically the GreenLeaf interns analyzed the quote and its connection to sustainability. Interns recognized that sustainability is not just about environment, but it’s also about how society functions, health of people, and how well we treat one another.

Keeping the theme of the week in mind, we worked hard to keep our plants happy and thriving! Lots of weeding and watering happened at GreenLeaf this week as our plants continue to grow and sprout (we saw new cucumber and sunflower sprouts this week!). We scavenged for supplies including lots of wood to build compost receptacles for waste recycling and wash stations for future harvests. One of the most exciting developments this week was completing a design for the official GreenLeaf sign to be placed outside of Mini Eden! Although still a work in progress, the sign already looks beautiful and truly captures the philosophy and essence of GreenLeaf. Images of the sign to come!

GreenLeaf also had the privilege of accepting a $2,000 grant from the Chinook Fund! Three GreenLeaf interns and one volunteer attended the Chinook Spring 2010 Grantee Awards ceremony to accept the grant and speak about their experiences at GreenLeaf. Each spoke just a sentence or two, but made a big impact on the crowd! We are so grateful and proud to accept the grant, which will help the organization sustainable itself this year!

Interns Emmanuel, Jorge and Indira, and volunteer Angie at Chinook Spring 2010 Grantee Awards

Finally, GreenLeaf had the pleasure of hiring three new enthusiastic interns for the summer program! Mohammad, Grace, and Tomas have joined the crew after volunteering for two full days on the farm and going through an application and interview process. We are so glad to have them aboard; they will certainly help shape and solidify GreenLeaf as a strong and flourishing organization. Congratulations, you three!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Phew! We have just completed our first week of GreenLeaf’s summer internship, and it feels good to have made it this far! We spent the past week double-digging beds, shoveling compost, planting seeds and seedlings, and watering. The garden has gone from empty lot to a 15-bed farm all thanks to the hard work and dedication of GreenLeaf interns and staff. Tomatoes, peas, bush beans and basil seedlings have all gone into the ground, and a great variety of seeds have also been sown into Greenleaf earth. We should have a great harvest for our first year!

Besides all of the physical labor of love going on at Mini Eden, lots of great discussion, decision-making, and games have happened this past week. We discussed the week’s theme of courage every morning, and reflected upon how much courage it took to break ground on a brand-new farm and keep working throughout the hot and sometimes difficult workdays. GreenLeaf made some tough decisions about community goals, how to sell or give away future produce, and how to navigate a system for new applicants to the summer internship program. The group was also introduced to a new aspect of the program called Straight Talk, which allows every GreenLeaf member to receive and give constructive feedback about their participation at GreenLeaf. On a lighter note, some great team-building and get-to-know-you games helped us all become a stronger and more cohesive group. We passed hula-hoops, shared our “glums and glows” from the day, and compared our musical tastes with a new boom box. The week finished off with a much-deserved break: a trip to the park and swimming pool for some Frisbee and fun!

The week has been an incredible experience. I learn something new and interesting about GreenLeaf interns and staff every day, and it’s easy to see that every young person at GreenLeaf provides an essential contribution to the organization. We have worked together very well for a very successful first week, and I cannot wait to see the things we will accomplish together this summer.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

we've got LAND!

Hey folks!

Sorry about the *ahem* blog silence over the past month or so. GreenLeaf has been BUSY. So busy that we haven't been blogging about our business.

The biggest news is this: We have land! We'll be growing loads o' food at 38th and Williams in Denver's Cole neighborhood. The youth have decided to name the land Mini Eden/Many Eatin'. That's right, folks: we're punny at GreenLeaf!
Here it is, a "before" shot. Please note the ENORMOUS weeds. Lots of 'em!

And here's the land after a long day's hard work, clearing those nasty weeds, lots of trash, and compost.

It's a gorgeous spot and we've spent the past few weeks getting it ready to plant. We're almost there, but we need your help. We're doing a volunteer day this Saturday, June 5th from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and would love to have you there with us. Can you make it for some plantin' and diggin'?