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DU’s Bridge Community Garden takes root

Students work in the Bridge Community Garden

DU students established an organic community garden this spring. Photo: Wayne Armstrong

Do you have SOLE power?

DU does, now that the Bridge Community Garden is up and running.

SOLE—an acronym used to denote food that is sustainable, organic, local and ethical—aptly describes the fruits and veggies grown in the garden, located across from Centennial Halls at 1819 S. High St.

Members of the DU Environmental Team (a student organization) and the All Undergraduate Student Association Senate worked throughout the 2008-09 academic year to obtain administrative approval for the garden.

“It started out certainly because of environmental reasons. But now I can see the huge benefits for the community in terms of building stronger bonds and mobilizing to tackle other issues,” says Ben Waldman, a senior international studies major and co-administrator of the Garden Steering Committee.

A May 30 ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the end of a two-month effort by volunteers from DU, the surrounding neighborhoods and Denver Urban Gardens to transform the land—purchased by the University in 2005—into a workable garden.

The garden contains 12 plots, an herb garden, a tool shed and a community-compost system. Picnic benches, chairs and a grill also enhance the space.

A federal work-study position has been established to assist the Garden Steering Committee with managing conflicts and organizing monthly workshops on topics such as organic pest control, basic gardening, composting, canning food and conserving water.

A desire to share her perennials, collaborate with other experts and develop a relationship with students prompted neighbor Dawn Gardener to get involved.

“It’s a small little way of showing the neighborhood that gardening can really be a way to bring about community involvement. It has been really rewarding,” says Gardener, who planted tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, watermelon and pumpkins on her plot.

Plot-holders must abide by the University’s license-and-use agreement as well as a number of stipulations devised by the Garden Steering Committee. They also must pay an annual fee of $25. Gardeners who adhere to these rules are eligible to retain their plots the following year. To date, developing the garden has cost $6,000. Waldman contributed $1,000 he received as a Morgridge Community Scholar, and the AUSA Senate covered the rest.

Several neighbors have credited the Bridge Garden with helping to break down the “invisible wall” between DU and the surrounding community, according to Zoee Turrill, a former AUSA Sustainability Committee member who graduated in June. While this partially explains the garden’s name, it was also somewhat fated—explains Gail Neujahr, a neighbor and co-administrator of the Garden Steering Committee—as students found a broken footbridge on the property as they were developing the garden. They repaired the bridge and re-installed it on the site.

And because Bridge gardeners want the entire community to enjoy the garden, a basket of free produce donated by plot-holders is available at the front of the garden throughout the growing season, making it easier for everyone to have a little more SOLE power.

Students, faculty, staff and neighbors interested in obtaining a plot can send a request via e-mail or visit for more information. Plots are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis.

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