The following post is the first in a series from Wild Green Yonder associate Patrick Wilhelmy about urban permaculture in Denver.
The past six months for me has been a complete immersion in the world of permaculture. I received my PDC in January with very little awareness of the art, and then moved to the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute, where I interned from March to June. Three weeks ago I made the transition from the remote CRMPI site to the city of Denver to work with Wild Green Yonder Permaculture and other Urban Agriculture enthusiasts. The reason for this move lies in firm beliefs of the importance of food justice for all people, the importance of healing people and places through working with soil and plants, and the importance of educating people. The recent transition has really rounded out my understanding of permaculture and the past three weeks have been full of inspiring conversations with many people working to counter a failed system that drives the mainstream.
There is immense potential for food production within the city of Denver as well as all cities. Closing loops by tapping into the waste stream of the city provides an abundance of organic materials as well as food and building materials. There is also an abundance of people in the city. This means there are a lot of people to feed, but it also means there are a lot of people willing to work. The key is education, especially of the youth. The GrowHaus is currently running a summer program for teens teaching about gardening, healthy foods, and healthy lifestyles. So far the classes have been an incredible success and continue to improve as the students become more enthusiastic about their future with food awareness. People from all backgrounds recognize the benefits of a healthy diet but most people are denied that option.
A favorite project of mine that I have found in the city is SAME Café. SAME is an acronym for So All May Eat. It was started by a young couple Brad and Libby who spent years volunteering in soup kitchens. They noticed how these meals attracted only a certain group in need and desired creating a place where ALL people gathered to eat healthy, local, and primarily organic meals. The entire café is on donation basis and accepts work trade for meals. It is projects like these that truly inspire me and are needed to teach people about the importance of localizing our businesses, feeding people, and creating community. Another fantastic movement is the Denver Handmade Homemade Market. Two of these markets have taken place and they are a blast! The purpose of the market is to support people in their passions and hobbies on a home scale level. Crafts, produce, lotions, teas, granola, bread, cheese, and even haircuts are made available for trade or suggested donation. People are incredibly talented and should be allowed to pursue these passions sustainably. I love the market because it inspires people to create and share with each other and also demonstrates the non-dependence on corporate production and destruction. The city is an extremely important place for permaculture enthusiasts to be because permaculture does not exist without community and in this environment we can support each other in all our projects. The Salon of Urban Permaculture is a monthly potluck and discussion for people interested in farming, gardening, permaculture, community… anything. Two meetings have been successfully held with great talks and delicious food. We are hoping for these gatherings to continue to grow in the months to come. It is my deepest hope that we are in the beginnings of a new world and it is very exciting to be able to assist this movement and work with so many people positively working for change.