The Denver Public School “Urban Farm” initiative began in fall 2011. The Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) department launched urban farms at four DPS school sites ranging from ½ acre-1-acre. This effort was inspired by a successful Garden to Cafeteria Program that began in fall 2010, delivering over 1,000 lbs. of produce to school kitchens from 15 garden sites. In fall 2011, Sprout City Farms provided 568 lbs. of produce to the Denver Green School kitchen from the Denver Green School Community Farm, and the McGlone Elementary School farm provided 31 lbs. of spinach for school meals. Since then, Sprout City Farms has continued to provide produce to the Denver Green School kitchen while urban farm sites at Bradley, McGlone and Schmitt Elementary School farms have supplied produce for school meals across the district.
Since 2011, the FNS team has collaborated with community organizations, such as Groundwork Denver, to manager the District’s urban farms with the goal of putting fresh, healthy and locally grown produce into the school meals program! Providing nutritious meals to students across Denver is a commitment of both organizations. Promoting personal health and community well-being is an important principal of the Green Team (Groundwork Denver’s employment based youth development program) and working the land at DPS provides the opportunity to put this concept into action.
Three years ago, the Food and Nutrition Services team hired a DPS farmer to oversee all urban farms operated in DPS. Farmer Stephen oversees the Farm Food Safety plan, developed through a USDA Farm to School Grant by Colorado State University. USDA representatives visit each farm site at least once per season to verify compliance with the food safety plan. All farm sites are irrigated with potable city water using drip irrigation to minimize water usage.
In the eighth year of the urban farm project (2018-2019) we are down to three school sites, Schmitt Elementary Smiley Campus and the Denver Green School, and the FNS department harvested more than 8000 lbs. of produce and served tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini grown on the farms to schools across DPS.
Come support our work to grow vegetables for Denver students by helping at one of our Farm Volunteer Days. For more information or to volunteer to help at our school farms, please call Anne Wilson at 720-423-5608 or e-mail Anne_Wilson@dpsk12.org.