By Karthryn White
A vacant parcel of city-owned land in the Regis neighborhood at the corner of 48th Avenue and Julian Street will become the site of a new community garden and food forest this year.
Denver Urban Gardens (DUG) has held several community meetings at the nearby Wat Buddhawararam Buddhist Temple and is currently receiving community input to design the project’s first phase. Construction is slated to begin in September. Three smaller additional parcels along 48th Avenue between Julian and Hooker streets will be incorporated into the project over the next couple of years.
The four parcels are owned by the city and managed by Denver Parks & Recreation. According to Berkeley Regis United Neighbors’ (BRUN) Marie Edgar, the parcels were originally part of Rocky Mountain Lake Park but have remained in a sort of land-use limbo since I-70 construction separated them from the park back in the mid-1960s.
At a recent community meeting, Lara Fahnestock, DUG’s director of garden operations, described possible designs and features for the garden and invited volunteer leaders from two nearby community gardens (Academia Sandoval School Community Garden and the Shoshone Community Garden) to speak about their experiences. They shared tips for building a sense of community among gardeners, advice on garden design and ideas for supporting people new to gardening. In addition to reaching more community members for input and participation, DUG would like to form a three-person garden leadership committee for the site.
Creighton Hofeditz, DUG’s director of permaculture and perennials, said a food forest consists of food-bearing trees, bushes and vines that grow at varying heights, maxing out at around 15 feet. Signage identifies the plants and helps the public determine when the fruits, nuts and berries are ready to be harvested.
Hofeditz said DUG selects trees suited to Colorado’s climate and the urban setting. On this site, fruit trees could include apple, pear, plum, tart cherry, persimmon and hazelnut. Blackberries, boysenberries, elderberries and currants are also possibilities.
Additionally, Hofeditz pointed out that the sloping parcel flanked by an alley and street is an ideal candidate for redirecting stormwater for use by the food forest. DUG constructed six food forests last year and plans to add 14 more — including the one at 48th Avenue and Julian — this year. Fahnestock and Hofeditz said the garden’s first phase could include up to 16, 12-by-12-foot garden plots for community members and approximately 20 trees.
Other features could include a shade structure, picnic benches, pollinator areas, compost bins and a tool shed. Councilwoman Amanda P. Sandoval attended the May 4 meeting and encouraged attendees to each tell five neighbors. Her office has been working on the community garden idea for over three years, and she said she looks forward to seeing the parcels put to meaningful use for the neighborhood. Denver’s Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI) will construct a new 6-foot attached sidewalk along the perimeter of the property this summer.
The dilapidated timber fence across the street from the site, intended to shield nearby residents from I-70 traffic noise, has fallen down in several areas. Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) received funding in 2021 to replace the timber walls with precast concrete wall panels as part of its I-70 Noise Wall Replacement in Denver project. The section of noise wall nearest the community garden is planned for 2024.
To receive updates on the garden project and to inquire about a plot or volunteering with the garden or food forest, send an email to 48thandjuliancommunitygarden@ dug.org.