Union Station Neighborhood Steps in to Create Activated Public Space, Community Gardens 

 Denver Urban Gardens, Central Platte Valley Metropolitan District, RTD Partner to
Breathe New Life into Neighborhood 

 DENVER, June 4, 2024 — A fenced-off area between Wewatta Street and Chestnut Place on 17th Street in the Union Station neighborhood of downtown Denver is being transformed into the dynamic 17th Street Community Gardens, a public space that includes community garden plots, a sound garden and a stage for live music and events. The Central Platte Valley Metropolitan District (CPVMD) operates and maintains the public space and partnered with Denver Urban Gardens (DUG) and RTD to create and manage the enhancements slated for completion later this summer.

“This project is such a great example of a diverse partnership of private, nonprofit and government sectors coming together to create a place that improves the downtown experience,” said Jason Dorfman, board president of the Central Platte Valley Metropolitan District. “The community gardens will give the district a way to manage a high-visibility area of downtown and get neighbors actively involved in improving our city through programming, participation and activation.”

For three years, the once vibrant space on 17th Street in front of Whole Foods Union Station was closed to protect and preserve the land and trees during the period when there were far fewer people in the area due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The gardens and planned events in the new space will contribute to an interactive and inclusive area within the Central Platte Valley. Construction is underway with the garden plots slated to open this week and the remaining areas planned for completion later this summer.

In addition to garden plots, the design will incorporate the creative use of sound and light to develop a tranquil environment for all users whether they are gardening, enjoying a meal or a simply seeking respite from a busy day. Efforts to re-energize the area through activation include a weekday lunchtime concert series featuring local artists, free Saturday morning yoga classes and a pumpkin patch in the fall.

“We looked at a number of options to activate this space,” continued Dorfman. “We see this as an opportunity to re-think how public space is activated in a post-pandemic urban landscape. Our philosophy is centered on the notion that active, healthy community-based stewardship will breathe new life into the area in ways it hasn’t seen before.”

Reactivating a portion of the area as a DUG community garden will not only provide land for nearby apartment and condo dwellers to grow their own fresh, healthy, hyper-local organic food, but also build community and offer gardeners a way to take positive climate action by enhancing biodiversity, sequestering carbon, building healthy soil and minimizing water use.

“Over the past four decades, DUG has honed its model for community gardens so that they end up being much more than a catalyst for growing fresh produce,” said Linda Appel Lipsius, executive director of Denver Urban Gardens. “These gardens are places where residents build strong connections with others while healing their bodies and minds. The DUG team is thrilled to bring this unique community asset to the heart of LoDo, addressing the desires and needs of residents as demonstrated by a long waitlist for the nearby Commons Park Community Garden.”

For information on the concert series, yoga classes and other events happening in the summer and fall of 2024, visit  www.cpvmd.org/17thstgarden-events.

There has been substantial interest in the 17th Street Community Garden plots. Those interested in joining the garden may email 17thstcommunitygarden@dug.org to be added to the waitlist. For updates on the garden progress, follow Denver Urban Gardens on Instagram.

About the Central Platte Valley Metropolitan District:  The Central Platte Valley Metropolitan District builds and maintains all of the public amenities in the lower downtown area of Denver bounded by the railroad tracks on the north, Wewatta Street on the south, 15th Street on the west, and 20th Street on the east. The District is run by an elected Board of Directors. More information about the District can be found at www.cpvmd.org.

About Denver Urban Gardens (DUG): Founded in 1978, DUG is one of the country’s largest community garden organizations with 193 gardens across six counties in metro Denver accounting for 34 acres greened, 650,000 lbs. of food grown (of which 10% is donated), 17,500 gardeners, and over 40,000 people impacted through its gardens, education, food access and volunteer programs. Learn more at www.dug.org.

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