Families and community members with a green thumb or those wanting to learn can get gardening know-how and teach kids where their food really comes from by coming to the 27J Community Garden. You can join in to harvest vegetables and pull weeds in the 27J Garden every Monday and Thursday from 9-11 a.m. July 29 through September 26. The garden is located behind the 27J Educational Services Center at 18551 E. 160th Ave. in Brighton.
For every hour a person spends working in the community garden, they take home a portion of that day’s harvest. Also, volunteer hours in the garden for students can count towards community service hours for graduation requirements. Tri-County Health Department partners with 27J Schools to operate the garden, which last year yielded 1,728 pounds of produce--many of those vegetables were donated to local food banks.
Early in the season wet weather did delay planting seeds by a week, but the rain has helped the plants grow bigger. “The soil is easier to work with the rain and there are more weeds growing but they are easy to spot and pick out of the garden beds,” said Volunteer Zak Levin. He has volunteered in the 27J Garden for two summers.
He learned about the gardening opportunity from a college classmate, Bree Neison. They both are graduates from Metropolitan State University’s Human Nutrition and Dietetics program. Neison has been a garden volunteer for three summers.
This summer’s crops include: squash, cantaloupe, lettuce, beets, radishes, garlic, herbs and strawberries.
For a decade, 27J Schools and the Tri-County Health Department has had a community garden partnership. This year, half of the raised garden beds were turned over to families who want to care for their own garden plot. The remaining garden beds are tended to by community volunteers.
“This is the first year we have tried gifting garden plots for the summer to people who wanted to tend a garden,” said Holly Cannon of Tri-County Health. “We are really happy to see our gardeners growing different types of vegetables. The gardens are looking great.”
27J family Melissa and Sean Owsley have three sons who attend 27J Schools. “We live in an apartment so we decided to plant in one of the garden plots,” she said. They planted tomatoes, peppers, beets and green beans.
The Gubser family has also planted a garden. Maria Gubser thought it would be a great way for her daughter, Allie, to learn where her food comes from. “We love it,” said Gubser. “We have planted cherry tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers and cilantro.”
Tawnia Nies has planted a garden plot. She works as a 27J Nutrition Services Manager “I just love the social aspect of gardening and I like to grow an extra row of vegetables to feed those in need,” she said. “It’s amazing to see families learn how to grow their own food. You just plant a little seed and see what you get. Then, you add water and the sunshine does the rest.”
Nies shares her garden plot with Dona Sawdy, who works in the Pennock School childcare program. They have planted green beans, carrots, watermelon and cucumbers.
27J Community Garden hours are Monday and Thursday from 9-11 a.m. from July through September. Volunteers and families are invited to help tend the community garden during these times.
For questions about the 27J Community Garden, contact Natalie Ostrander at 720-685-7646 or Nichole Poppie at 303-655-2988.