Growing More Than Seeds
A 20,000 square foot greenhouse with three working farms, The GrowHaus functions as a nonprofit indoor farm in Denver’s Elyria-Swansea neighborhood with a vision to catalyze a neighborhood-based food system in a community that is healthy, equitable and resident-driven. This is essentially achieved through three program areas: food production, food distribution and food education.
Situated inside what’s known as a food desert—the majority of the local population doesn’t live within three miles of a grocery store. Most residents commute via bus, which means taking two buses to the nearest grocery store. If you’ve ever carted your groceries home on public transportation, you know first hand what a challenge this can be.
Determined to be more than a quick fix type solution, GrowHaus partners with local co-ops and farmers to offer food and education to the public. It operates on a sliding scale fee so individuals who shop in the market can pay what they can.
DENVER FOOD RESCUE
A cooking class each Monday is taught with whatever items come in over the weekend from Denver Food Rescue. Residents are shown how to prepare produce and sent home with a box containing approximately $80-100 worth of food products. But it doesn’t end there. Students are also educated about terms they may not be familiar with like GMO, organic and local, along with various fundamental growing principals that, in turn, spark more interest.
“We’re training community members to become caterers and open restaurants,” says Program Director Isabel Sanchez.
She’s also a permaculture designer, teacher, urban farmer, activist and passionate advocate for teaching self-reliance and sustainability in relation to the right to housing and food justice.
Providing many options for local food for the neighborhood and their families, GrowHaus aims to be an education hub revolving around nutrition, gardening, cooking and other essential skills for building healthy communities. The Seed2Seed 8-week program focuses on healthy diet, healthy soil and healthy communities. Participants learn about the essentials of nutrition, growing food, social justice and entrepreneurship. And since many neighborhood residents are without health insurance as well, the organization also teaches an herb and nutrition class with an emphasis on healing home remedies.
GrowHaus believes that healthy food is a right, not a privilege.
Sanchez says, “The goal is that it changes.” Meaning that the non-profit helps to provide healthy food and education to lift its neighboring community out of its current food desert status.
HOW TO GET INVOLVED
In addition to volunteering or interning, you can also become a member. También, a monthly donation-based membership club in support of The GrowHaus, is where members make up a diverse network of change makers who are passionate about creating positive change in Denver’s food system. Look for an upcoming annual seed swap in March, along with an Earth Day event in April.
“The goal is that it changes,” says Sanchez.
4751 York Street
DENVER FOOD RESCUE
According to Feed America, 48.1 million Americans lived in food-insecure households last year. This is not only a national issue; it’s alarmingly local. Denver Food Rescue prevents fresh, but bruised produce from getting chucked in the dumpster from food vendors (i.e. grocery stores, farmers markets, etc.) and then directly redistributes it into the communities of food insecure families. About 1000 pounds of food is transported daily as part of its Free Grocery Program.
To keep the system sustainable, all of the food is hauled via bicycle, except for cases of extreme weather or extremely large food rescue events. Programs are led/facilitated/sustained by members of the community.