Rewarding Volunteer Experience

VOLUNTEERING IN LOCAL DENVER GARDENS MAKES FOR A FUN AND REWARDING MORNING

There is an incredible feeling that comes from working with people in your community to accomplish a shared goal.  In this case, that goal is good, clean, and fair food for all.  Slow Food Denver aims to reach that goal through a variety of programs, none of which would be made possible without the help of our extensive volunteer network.  From gardening, to helping with events, to assisting during youth cooking classes, our volunteers make it possible for Slow Food Denver to work towards this overarching goal.  I have volunteered many times with Slow Food Denver, and want to take you through what a typical volunteer experience in the garden looks like. 

One of my favorite programs that Slow Food Denver promotes is the Garden Tending with Grow Local Colorado.  Every other Thursday, a group of selfless volunteers meet in Civic Center Park to tend to the 8 beautiful garden beds.  We are greeted by the energetic Linda Kiker with Grow Local Colorado, who has a surplus of knowledge to share about gardening, cooking, and so much more.  Linda is the most welcoming, friendly, and helpful individual and begins each volunteer session with a brief rundown of what to expect from the day.  She often explains what beds need to be harvested and weeded, which ones need some extra fertilizer, and where all of the produce is going to be donated.  She highlights the valuable work done by both Slow Food Denver and Grow Local Colorado.  One of my favorite parts of this volunteer experience is knowing that every single bit of produce that is harvested gets donated to food pantries serving the Denver area.  These food pantries include Metro Caring, SAME cafe, and The Gathering Place.  So far, we have donated over 400 pounds of produce from these events alone in 2021!

People of all ages are encouraged to volunteer!

After everyone gathers their gardening gloves and tools, the fun begins!  We split up and tend to the garden beds that need it most.  The satisfaction of pulling a freshly ripe pepper off it’s vine, finding a zucchini hidden deep in its leaves, or hearing the excitement in the voice of a youth volunteer after finding more produce is incomparable.  We harvest squash, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, kale, cabbage, basil and more!  Something else that is cool about this experience is there is no age limit!  I love watching toddlers work alongside their grandparents, families volunteer together, or individuals come alone.  

I have attended four volunteer gardening events and have learned something new each time.  Whether that be how to know if a pepper is ready to be picked, what garden flowers help with inflammation, or which weeds are actually edible, I value the exchange of information.  This volunteer opportunity does not only benefit the community and provide fresh food to those in need, but allows you to share experiences with like minded people.  I have met some amazing people at the Civic Center Gardens volunteer events and have formed relationships with them since.  I believe that growing relationships over a shared interest makes for a strong and lasting connection. 

I can not emphasize enough how fun and rewarding these volunteer experiences are, and am looking forward to the next one! If this post has inspired you to volunteer with Slow Food, which I hope that it has, please join us for a morning of working in the gardens by signing up through our website.

Post by Micaela O’Mara

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