To grow a healthier community through garden programs, education, and access to local produce. We envision a community of healthy people eating from healthy land.
The Garden Project has provided educational garden programs to La Plata County's community since 1998. Nearly 8,400 youth and 4,000 adults have been directly served through gardening and food programs in the past fifteen years. Since our inception, The Garden Project has facilitated programs at over 22 school, community and backyard gardens. In January 2018, TGP was awarded the Durango Chamber of Commerce's 2017 Non-Profit of the year award.
In 2004, The Garden Project combined the efforts of two existing programs: "Greens and Things" Children's Gardens and "Growing Community Food Project." Because of shared missions to teach important community and land issues through gardening programs, these organizations merged to form The Garden Project of Southwest Colorado, a federal non-profit organization.
"Greens and Things" was developed in 1998 to promote community and youth development through gardening programs in Durango. The gardens were designed, built, planted, maintained and harvested primarily by low-income and high-risk youth groups for the purpose of connecting youth with the land, their community and themselves. "Growing Community Food Project" became active in 2000 promoting local food initiatives to strengthen local food systems through sustainable agriculture education and the promotion of local farmer's markets. This initial mission is still represented today.
In 2004, The Garden Project became a founding member of the Growing Partners of Southwest Colorado, "a partnership of agencies and individuals working together to support a fair, sustainable local food system that reaches all incomes, ages and cultures" and has "collaborated on food projects to increase community food security for under-served populations in La Plata County."
The Garden Project has offered programs at over 20 community and school garden locations including Manna Soup Kitchen, Durango Housing Corporation, the Riverhouse Children's Center, Sunshine Gardens, Fort Lewis Mesa Elementary, Needham Elementary, the Ohana Kuleana Community Garden, Fort Lewis College and City Hall.
"The positive energy abounds here! They teach others to feed the world with love and nutritious food. They are a gift to our community." - Cali Rizzi
"We have been impressed with the way The Garden Project has established itself as a key community partner in promotion and facilitation of increased access to healthy foods in our community. As the executive director of Manna Soup Kitchen, improving access to healthy food through gardens, farm stands, and collaboration with other organizations are top priorities to which I am deeply committed. The positive effects of programs we've collaborated on with The Garden Project include garden workdays, integration with the culinary arts program, Manna Market produce stand, and integration with our kitchen meals. We appreciate our long standing history of collaboration with The Garden Project to address food-access and education around healthy nutrition within our community." - Kathy Tonnesson, Manna Soup Kitchen Executive Director
"I am a founding member of the Ohana Kuelana Community Garden project, which enjoyed its first growing season in the summer 2013. My personal experiences in being a part of this project are many and can only be really expressed in terms of new friendships forged, new lessons learned, and a new a richer understanding of the value of community gardens as places for both personal growth and enrichment." - Bruce Spining
"As a science teacher, the lessons in the garden were very effective for addressing standards and developing student engagement. I was really surprised how adventurous nearly all of the kids were about eating the veggies from the garden. They loved the food and of course they love getting dirty! " -Charlie Love, Science Teacher, Riverview Elementary