Synopsis by Eliot Kersgaard. Edited by Zac Fabian. Photos by Fabian Productions, LLC
On July 16, 2016, over 150 people converged at Sister Gardens for Denver’s 3rd Permaculture Action Day this summer. Over the last few years, this 1.25 acre plot managed by Urbiculture community farms, which merged this year with Groundwork Denver, has been coming to life as a community food hub. It is a food-producing farm, classroom as well as personal sanctuary. Garden produce is sold at a pay-as-you-can farm stand, sold to restaurants and is distributed to Warren Village, a transitional housing facility that helps low income single parent families achieve sustainable personal and economic self- sufficiency.
Fatuma Emmad, the Sister Gardens site manager, explains the mission of UrbiCulture Community Farms:
“We have a bunch of different sites throughout Denver. We grow food, we have pay what you can farm stands, and then we have a healing foods program. The healing foods program goes to places that are housing displaced women and children, which is a big problem in Denver. Rent prices are going up, its hard for people to meet up with the demand of expense here. So we donate there and we also donate to a place that has people that are receiving treatment for cancer.”
“It’s about healing, and that’s healing land and also healing communities. We really work to figure out how to connect people to resources, to opportunities, to each other, to get that real sense of neighborhood, and community, and interdependence. Thats what I think permaculture is all about.”
We worked on several projects around the site while Dank Lloyd dropped a DJ set. The music was vibrant and soothing as we started to sweat in the hot Colorado sun. Our tasks for the day including: general upkeep of the farm, such as weeding and turning the compost, and a few infrastructure improvements. The foundation and draining trench were dug for a new washing station to serve the farm’s twice weekly farm stand; an herb spiral to grow new plants and aesthetically pleasing; and a cobb oven for wood fired pizza and more. An energetic group of young children painted, while we had a yoga class, and others enthusiastically mapped their visions of a better Denver with Boulder native permaculture teacher Robin Eden. Even more youth came out with Groundwork Denver and worked hard on our projects throughout the day.
Dinner catered by Caveman chefs featured ingredients sourced from the site such as kale, collards, and carrots. Potatoes and kale chips were roasted to perfection in the world’s largest mobile solar oven, brought by Solutions Craft. The music concluded after dinner with an activating lyrical adventure by Alais Clay. After, 80 of us closed the day with a circle in which we shared sentiments and a giant group hug. Many stayed at the site chatting, cleaning, and lending an extra hand to break down and pack up.
This Action Day was the first Permaculture Action Day completely organized by a local, Bioregional Crew. The crew that put together the action day was a collaboration of the Permaculture Action Network, UrbiCulture Community Farms, the Musical Activist Alliance, and the Denver Permaculture Guild. The Front Range Permaculture Action Crew will be building from the success of this action day with more action days throughout the Denver metro area. For more information on what we’re up to or to help plan future action days, please reach out to Eliot Kersgaard at BoulderBiomimicry@gmail.com.