48th & Julian Community Garden Takes Shape

By Kathryn White

A vacant lot at 48th Avenue and Julian Street has begun its new life as a food forest and community garden. 

On Oct. 13, dozens of volunteers and staff from Denver Urban Gardens (DUG) spent the day spreading mulch, constructing frames and hauling compost to fill in garden plots.

Volunteers help convert a city-owned vacant lot into a community garden that will be ready for planting in spring 2024. Photo courtesy of DUG

Nessa Mogharreban, DUG’s director of corporate partnerships, said the garden will be open and ready for planting in spring 2024. The garden is designed to be ADA accessible with 5-foot firm pathways constructed around the garden plots, and some plots built to 1-1/2 feet high.

Sara Fruithandler and Jake Goldman, who both work in healthcare, live nearby in the Regis neighborhood and spent the day pitching in.

“Research shows just having a garden you can access increases your happiness and your satisfaction with daily life,” Fruithandler said. “It’s one of those things we tell our patients, that they should have hobbies that bring them joy, that getting out into the sunlight and seeing stuff grown from seed can definitely bring a lot of joy.”

“We’ve made a genuine effort to get to know our neighbors,” Goldman said. “This garden is a way to connect with neighbors that we haven’t met yet around a hobby we already enjoy, which is really nice.”

Leslie Tremayne lives a few houses away and first got involved during the community input process earlier this year. She learned gardening from her dad while she was growing up in Ohio.

“I have a garden in my backyard,” Tremayne said. “But I’d like to put the bigger plants out here, like squash and cucumbers. My garden at home is very small, so I could put the smaller herbs there instead.”

“This garden is for anybody in this neighborhood, in this community,” Mogharreban said. “Anyone who can walk or ride or roll here. If someone is apartment dwelling and would like to garden but doesn’t have the space to do it, this is for them. For first-year gardeners, we’ll be with them every step of the way.”

The garden also includes a food forest, an assortment of food-bearing trees, bushes and vines that will grow to varying heights, maxing out at around 15 feet. Signage will identify plants and help community members determine when the fruits, nuts and berries are ready to eat.

Conceptual rendering for the garden and food forest at 48th and Julian. Rendering by Skyscape Gardens

“Next year, we’re looking at some berries that will be producing,” Mogharreban said. “The apple trees and nut trees will be in production in probably three to five years. In 10 years, we’re going to have thousands of pounds of fruit here.”

The garden, DUG’s 200th in Denver, makes productive use of one of four oddball parcels of city-owned vacant land that were cut off from Rocky Mountain Lake Park when I-70 was constructed back in the mid-1960s. Three smaller parcels along 48th Avenue between Julian and Hooker streets will be incorporated into the project over the next couple of years.

To put your name on the list for a garden plot or to inquire about volunteering, send an email to 48thandjuliancommunitygarden@dug.org.

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