By Dawn Fradkin, Arapahoe County Master Gardener Coordinator & Assistant Horticulturist
The CSU Grow and Give program is in its third season and is “growing” stronger than ever. In 2022, many new features and resources were added to the Grow and Give website. A new Real-Time Donation Results page has been added to see the impact of the program live, as well as many new videos and resources in Spanish on the Spanish “Grow” Resources page. The program has partnered with Fresh Food Connect this year. Fresh Food Connect has a mobile app that makes it easier to connect gardeners and food banks so that extra produce can be shared with food-insecure families.
This season, Arapahoe County Master Gardeners donated over 5,023 pounds of fresh, healthy produce through the Grow and Give program. CMGs maintain seven demonstration gardens throughout the county. Six of these gardens grow vegetables and one provides food and habitat for pollinators. Here are the highlights of the 2022 season:
Colorado Center for the Blind
Volunteers in this garden provide horticultural therapy to vision-impaired students by teaching them how to garden and grow their own food. In 2022, students returned to the school after the pandemic. All produce from this garden is donated to the school for use in its culinary curriculum.
This garden is a champion producer for the Grow and Give program. Volunteers have donated literally tons of fresh food to the community since 2011. The mission for this demonstration garden began, and has remained, to grow and donate fresh pesticide-free produce to support local community food banks. Grow and Give 2022 donation: 2,198 pounds.
Clayton Elementary School
In 2022, Arapahoe County Master Gardeners and 4-H staff launched a new after school pilot program centered around gardening. CMGs also gave free classes to the community in this demonstration garden focusing on topics like Japanese beetles, pollinators, native plants and putting the garden to bed. Grow and Give 2022 donation: 966 pounds.
This is one of the loveliest demonstration gardens. Visitors to the Hudson Gardens Event Center frequent this garden regularly. Arapahoe County Master Gardeners are always on their toes when volunteering here, answering gardening questions and often holding impromptu classes to groups touring the site. Grow and Give 2022 donation: 432 pounds.
Plains Conservation Center
Modeled after an 1800s pioneer garden, PCC grows heirloom varieties of herbs and vegetables curated by the Denver Botanic Gardens. This demonstration garden was showcased at the City of Aurora’s Agriculture Festival in September 2022, attended by more than 300 people. Grow and Give 2022 donation: 510 pounds. (Ag Festival pumpkins, squash and “everything else up for grabs” donations: Priceless)
Colorado Master Gardeners in Arapahoe County have been tending to this favorite demonstration garden since 2012. The garden will be getting a face lift next year, as Greenwood Village will be completely renovating this garden through the winter. It will have an all-new layout that is ADA accessible with new raised beds and irrigation. Grow and Give 2022 donation: 917 pounds.
Lima Pollinator Garden
After feeding so many people in our communities with fresh food, Arapahoe County Master Gardeners haven’t forgotten to feed the pollinators too! Since 2019, this gorgeous garden that blooms from spring until frost has fed thousands of beneficial pollinators. After all, these amazing insects and creatures help us grow most of the produce we donate, so we love to keep them fed, housed and happy.
New and Exciting Upcoming 2023 Garden
And, finally, introducing our newest Colorado Master Gardener Arapahoe County demonstration garden! CMGs are partnering with Arapahoe County Open Spaces and Denver Urban Gardens in this new community garden being built at the Cheyenne-Arapaho Park. The 2023 season will be the inaugural year for this newest demonstration plot that will provide gardening education and outreach to the Four Square Cheyenne-Arapaho Park Community.