The GrowHaus, a non-profit social impact center and food oasis, in the neighborhood of Elyria-Swansea in North Denver, Colorado, is indeed a gem in its community. A partner of Colorado Aquaponics, this 20,000 square foot urban aquaponics farm and community education and cultural exchange center brings all-organic or locally grown food to a quaint indoor market six days a week in a region of Denver that needs it most. Upon exiting the highway, making a few turns, crossing some train tracks, and parking next to a trailer park, a tourist might think they’ve come across directions to a different kind of GrowHaus. However, the front of the building displays a beautiful, lively mural, laden with lush produce and bright colors; it stands in stark contrast to the brown and grey of the food desert in which it dwells. It welcomes people across the full spectrum of life.
Photo Credit, GrowHaus
I walked through the front door of the warehouse that is connected to two massive greenhouses, that can be seen from the street. I was greeted warmly by Katie, the market manager, who offered me the entire facility to explore at my leisure, take pictures, and ask questions to employees. She told me all about the culturally appropriate and social impact initiatives of the Growhaus.
Aside from the massive amount of leafy greens and herbs grown in the 5,000 square foot Aquaponics greenhouses, GrowHaus also serves as a farm market year round, and more recently, via a few centrally located popups at farmer’s markets in Denver. It offers a CSA-based food distribution system to the community. Instead of signing up for a full season of produce, as with a CSA, GrowHaus offers “by the week” boxes and half-boxes at reasonable prices. Their boxes are available 52 weeks a year, and are priced differently members the predominantly latin american neighborhood it calls home. $12 for a half box and $20 for a “family” box is what neighbors who share their zipcode can pay. This is greatly discounted to the $20 half box and $37 family box available for the greater Denver area. Katie also informed me that to approach the community culture more appropriately, they buy avocados, bananas, and other organic produce from Mexico. Growhaus even make corn tortillas for their CSA boxes instead of bread so their neighbors can feel more at home and invited to participate in this community center. Tending the seedlings in the nursery were two neighbors that The Growhaus offered jobs. There is also a “pay what you can” policy for locals that need access to fresh food. No one goes unserved at the GrowHaus, that is for sure.
GrowHaus also has a highly versatile classroom space that hosts interactive educational activities and ecology workshops throughout the year. I saw a poster for the Forward Food Summit 2015, a day of conversations around race and food security, hosted at Impact Hub Boulder. Pamphlets and flyers for a service learning urban farm workshop series for kids, the Seed2Seed summer teen leadership program, a micro farm program that teaches holistic living and business models to implement at home, and the Denver Permaculture Design Course (hosted by the Denver Permaculture Guild) were found throughout. The structure for the Permaculture Design course is unique and brilliantly inclusive. Instead of having to leave work or take vacation for two full weeks in a rural setting, this course takes place at the GrowHaus and the Denver Urban Gardens headquarters one weekend per month between October and April, which makes it much more convenient and affordable to attend for all interested people!
There is an exciting evening of Growhausery on May 8th from six to ten pm for the Tambien membership group called The GrowHaus’ También Spring Dinner. También is a monthly donation-based membership club in support of The GrowHaus. Members are a diverse network of change makers that are passionate about creating positive change in Denver’s food system. Tickets are sliding scale beginning at $20 with an option to donate more.
For more information on upcoming events or to get involved, go to The Growhaus to volunteer (especially if you speak espanol!) at 4751 York Street, Denver, CO, 80216, call them at 720-515-4751, or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org!