“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”
– Aubrey Hepburn
Spring has officially sprung, and thoughts of renewal, planting and growing come to mind as the snow melts and days become longer. I love this time of year when the tiniest shoots of green and color push through the soil and trees awaken from a long winter of slumber. Nothing is as fulfilling as tending the earth’s soil to provide healthy herbs, vegetables and beautiful flowers.
Wheat Ridge is home to the Happiness Gardens (4226 N. Ammons), which has provided community garden plots for residents to grow and share vegetables, fruits and flowers for over 50 years. Last July, a $50,000 grant was approved to expand the gardens, including walking paths, a sensory garden, native plants exhibit, a picking garden and a layered food forest. The two expansion phases are being developed via Community First Foundation and Denver Urban Gardens partnerships.
I met with Krystyn “Yy” Dennis, the Gardening Coordinator for the City of Wheat Ridge, at the Happiness Gardens, where the garden plots and plants lie dormant. As we walked through the garden, Yy spoke about the regenerative practices being implemented, such as collaborating with local businesses like Stylus and Crate to collect coffee grounds to amend the soil, and reusing cardboard boxes that act as a natural weed suppressor, retain water and create an ideal home for worms. Leaves from last fall’s community Leaf Drop were placed in wire mesh bioreactor compost bins that the Wheat Ridge High School students helped build. WRHS has been instrumental in helping the garden with prep work and maintenance and offering insight into designing the expansion of the gardens.
The Garden is unique in that it contains 1/16- and 1/8-acre market plots for those who would like to grow with the intent to sell at the local farmer’s market; full and half plots, flower plots, and raised beds are available from April 1 through Nov. 18 for low seasonal rental fees ($10 for raised beds, $25-$50 for individual plots, more for market plots). Happiness Gardens offers affordable ($5) award-winning educational workshops for people of all ages and experiences to learn about regenerative gardening practices. If you’ve been curious about bees and beekeeping, beekeeper Susan Bennett offers a look into a bee’s life at the hives within the garden. For those who want to get their hands dirty and would like to help without the time commitment of a garden plot, the Many Hands volunteer program is scheduled twice a month to assist the community garden and individual plots. A master gardener from CSU will be available this summer to offer diagnostics to those with gardening questions.
I spent a great deal of time walking the paths in the Happiness Gardens many years ago when my kids were young, and I’m grateful to see that it is a thriving community space growing into something quite beautiful. The dedication of Yy and many others is impressive, as they’ve invested much energy in cultivating an area of community engagement and education for people of all ages and abilities to take in and share. I hope you take time this growing season to stop by Happiness Gardens to take in the sights and smells the space offers. Garden plots are still available for this growing season!
For more information on available garden plots, ongoing events, and classes, please visit https://www.rootedinfun.com/Facilities/Facility/Details/Happiness-Gardens-6.