These aren’t your ordinary garden plots. This is a collection of hundreds of urban garden plots throughout Boulder County, community gathering places, outdoor classrooms and a unique way to connect with nature while in Boulder.
The 17-acre garden at 1630 Hawthorne in Boulder is also the last agriculturally-zoned piece of land in the city of Boulder.
“You get onto the property and you don’t realize the city has grown up around it,” says Taylor Arenson, spokesperson for Growing Gardens. “It’s quiet. Deer often run through. It’s a neat place to even take a walk, and there’s a bike path along the south side that connects with the North Boulder Recreational Center. People can walk by for the sunset and stop on the benches.”
The nonprofit Growing Gardens brings people together to dig their hands in the soil and learn about growing plants, fruits and veggies. It’s a way to experience Boulder from the inside out.
Growing Gardens manages more than 500 garden plots in 12 locations across the county, including the Hawthorne location.
Growing Gardens offers several annual events, such as an Earth Day celebration with baby goat races and a fall harvest fest with pumpkins. Locals can rent a plot in the community gardens to grow their own organic veggies.
Growing Gardens also offers some interesting programs that you might not know about.
Here are five different ways that you can use Growing Gardens to enhance your time in Boulder, whether you live here and want to try something new or you’re visiting and looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
1. Summer Cooking Classes
Dive deep into Boulder’s farm-to-table foodie scene during these interactive cooking classes using veggies from the garden. Find classes on different themes offered throughout the summer, from knife skills, “intuitive cooking,” recipe-free cooking and how to use herbs and aromatics.
The classes feature different special guest chefs, who will help participants prepare sample menus. An example: Learn how to make veggie potstickers with chili-lime Vinaigrette, chilled radish and buttermilk soup and kale and radish slaw on July 6 with chef Zach Gart of Alfalfas. Menus are based around the vegetables growing in the garden that week.
Classes ($40) are held at Growing Gardens, 1630 Hawthorn Ave., Boulder.
2. Beekeeping Labs
Learn all about bees and how to keep your own in these unique, hands-on classes. The classes are designed for new beekeepers (although they’re interesting for people just wanting to learn more about bees, too). You will learn how to raise bees over the course of eight three- to four-hour classes. Lessons will bring you out to the bee yard to observe firsthand.
3. Farm Dinner Under the Stars
Indulge in a farm dinner under the stars at the Growing Gardens 18th-annual, five-course meal. The fundraising event, Saturday, Aug. 5, includes unique, gourmet food paired with wine and beer, an auction, a short film, farm tours, open bar and live music. Produce is organically grown on the Cultiva Farm. Other ingredients are locally raised.
The event is set up outside in an 11-acre garden with sweeping mountain views. Money raised helps support Growing Gardens’ youth programs, as well as its newest Food Project Farm, which donates all produce to low-income community members.
4. Children’s Peace Garden Summer Camps
Teach kids about nature and farming in the Peace Garden camps, offered throughout the summer either full-day or half day. Kids of different ages can sign up for these educational, interactive farming camps to learn about growing plants and how to use plants.
There are many different ways kids can get involved with the Peace Garden. Learn more here. In the fall, there is an after-school gardening club.
5. Horticultural Therapy
Gardening can be good for your physical, mental and social health. That’s why Growing Gardens offers horticultural therapy classes for seniors and people with disabilities.
Participants will plan and plant gardens, prepare the soil, learn about container gardening and more. Growing Gardens says the work can help people improve focus, practice decision-making, exercise gross and fine motor muscles, promote responsibility and improve social skills.