Arvada-grown food helps low-income families all over Denver

Graduated Regis students, professors add Arvada farm to nonprofit

Posted 7/30/19

Veronica Lewis, Abby Wagner and Cailin Osborne have “been farming together for years,” Lewis said. But when the women met roughly five years ago, they weren’t farmers — they were students at …

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Arvada-grown food helps low-income families all over Denver

Graduated Regis students, professors add Arvada farm to nonprofit

Posted

Veronica Lewis, Abby Wagner and Cailin Osborne have “been farming together for years,” Lewis said.

But when the women met roughly five years ago, they weren’t farmers — they were students at Regis University, all part of the same cohort program for a farm-based minor and each majoring in something different.

“We all had very different majors. That was kind of the point,” Lewis said. “We all bring different things to the table.”

In collaboration with founders and Regis professors Fatuma Emmad and Damien Thompson, the three women have helped establish and oversee Frontline Farming, a nonprofit that provides low- and no-cost food and education to the Colorado community.

The organization runs four farm plots, having created its most recent farm in Arvada last January. Located on Garrison Street north of 68th Avenue, the two-acre farm rests among neighborhood homes and the Majestic View Nature Center.

“The first time Abby and I came to this land, we immediately saw how much potential it had,” Lewis said. “There’s so much space, and we didn’t have anything this far north. It’s really important we reach all corners of Denver.”

The farmers now grow a variety of crops — including corn, peppers, carrots and strawberries — to be used in a variety of programs.

Some crops are sold for reduced prices at the nonprofit’s “pay what you can” farmstands around the Denver metro area. At the stands, which appear semiweekly at Celebration Gardens, 1650 S. Birch St., and weekly near Sister Gardens, 2861 W. 52nd Ave., the farmers are also happy to share their knowledge, Osborne said.

“We’re teaching people to be mindful of what’s seasonally ready, and working with people to find different recipes,” she said.

The nonprofit also donates produce to individuals with serious illnesses through its weekly Healing Foods program, a partnership with several organizations including Project Angel Heart, SafeHouse Denver and Family Tree.

Additionally, the farm sets up a weekly no-cost grocery store with items donated by Whole Foods, Lewis said. The store rotates from site to site each week.

These programs, as well as the others put on by the nonprofit, rely heavily on the efforts of volunteers, the farmers said.

“We accept everyone,” Lewis said. “Anyone who comes with any level of ability, we would love their help.”

For Golden resident Mel Kirk, who started volunteering with the farm this summer, the volunteering opportunity has taught him about far more than just farming.

“I love listening to the others and going, `oh, I didn’t know about that music app,’” he said. “What I get out of this is them. It’s like coming home in some ways.”

Kirk helps out with a number of tasks, such as weeding and maintaining the plots, he said.

“It goes beyond me,” he said. “I can’t think of a more important message.”

Lewis encouraged prospective volunteers to contact her at veronica@frontlinefarming.org. She and the others highlighted how rewarding the work has been, despite the 10-hour-or-longer work days.

“Freshly out of college, turning this into your whole world is different,” Wagner said, “but we’re empowering people to know their food is medicine. We want them to know they deserve this.”

Even when the day is done, Osborne said, the farmers find themselves doing exactly what they do during the day: talking about the farm, and talking to each other.

“It makes work a lot easier when it’s just hanging out with your friends,” she said. “We’re all so close-knit. We support each other in any way we can.”

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