The Growing Project is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that promotes the value of a strong, diverse, and just local food system to all residents of Northern Colorado through direct agricultural experiences, education, and advocacy.
In 2009, The Growing Project was created to address the issue of food insecurity in the Fort Collins community through urban agriculture and education. Urban Food Outreach program was launched, providing the materials and education to install and maintain community gardens in low-income neighborhoods and at other nonprofits. In 2010, TGP developed the Garden Time program which worked with at-risk youth in the garden at a residential treatment facility. Over the past six years, this program has expanded to three other organizations including The Boys and Girls Club and The Family Center/La Familia. In 2012, Food Finders was created to pick up unwanted/excess produce, by bike, from local growers and distribute it to nonprofits that feed the hungry.
For its first five years, TGP was 100% volunteer-run. In the fall of 2013, TGP received a grant to hire its first full-time employee: an Executive Director, allowing for more resource development and program expansion. From 2013-2015, TGP managed a ¼ acre educational garden, hosting various youth programs working with at-risk and adjudicated youth to complete community service hours. Additionally, volunteer hours were hosted 3 times a week so the public could learn about growing food and receive fresh produce in exchange for their time. In fall 2015, due to growth in volunteer base and funding, TGP secured a one acre plot for the educational garden enabling us to work with more youth and families in 2016.
With few financial resources and a lot of heart, here is some of what we accomplished in 2016:
• Our Food Finders program rescued and donated over 3,000 pounds of locally-grown produce to families and individuals in need and was 80% bicycle-powered.
• We managed 12 community gardens in low-income neighborhoods and at partner nonprofits, each garden had between 2-40 gardeners and produced between 100-500 lbs. of food for their community.
• We built a brand new garden at The Boys and Girls Club and did a huge garden expansion at The Murphy Center for Hope
• Our Garden Time program has engaged with over 90 at-risk/disadvantaged youth from The Boys and Girls Club and The Family Center to teach them gardening, cooking, and nutrition.
• Our new one acre educational garden produced over 9,000 pounds of veggies that was all donated back into our community and hosted over 200 volunteers.
• We taught 12 public workshops this season and had over 190 participants.
• We successfully completed our second season of our Teens for Food Justice program which worked with teens in the garden for 8 weeks to complete service hours for their diversion program and learn important vocational skills