Garden Sets Stage for Low-Income Community Access to Healthy Produce and Entrepreneurial Experience
DENVER, June 21, 2012 – Local nonprofits Veterans Green Jobs, YouthBiz, Engage 8, and corporate sponsor Weston Solutions, Inc. (WESTON®), joined together yesterday to complete construction of a community garden dedicated to military veterans and their families in Denver’s Five Points area. Approximately 120 volunteers turned out for the project which will provide fresh produce and health, wellness and entrepreneurial educational opportunities for the Whittier, Cole, and San Rafael neighborhoods. These northeast Denver neighborhoods are known as part of the city’s Northeast Food Desert Region as its lower income residents and homeless veterans have limited access to grocery stores and produce markets.
The 5,700-square-foot garden, located at 3280 Downing St. (corner of 33rd Ave. and Downing) in Five Points, will broaden food access for a population that includes a high density of lower income residents and homeless veterans. In addition to featuring fruit trees and vegetable beds, the community garden will include a courtyard with a dedication to military veterans and their families.
About 120 volunteers from WESTON, Veterans Green Jobs, YouthBiz and Engage 8 worked together to build 24 raised vegetable beds, fill compost, spread mulch, plant fruit trees, complete fencing, and install a courtyard and benches. The day ended with a Five Points Veteran Dedication Ceremony.
The volunteer event primes the garden area for planting by local community members, which will begin this Saturday, June 23. With the installation of the garden, youth from YouthBiz will lead efforts, in collaboration with gardening partners Engage 8, Mo Betta Greens and Going Green, Living Bling, to create a sustainable social venture that will meet a need for fresh produce in the community and allow the young people to explore and apply entrepreneurial skills in a true start-up experience.
Timed with WESTON’s “Make a Difference Day” and the company’s annual leadership conference in Denver, employees worldwide joined forces with local employees who often give back as evidenced by volunteer efforts in Lakewood, at Wheat Ridge’s historic Fruitdale School, or planting trees for the City of Colorado Springs.
Patrick G. McCann, WESTON president and chief executive officer, commented, “With a core value of Making a Difference, our employees are challenged to give back to the communities where we live and work on a regular basis. This event is special in that our employees—many of them veterans themselves—can contribute to the real heart of the community in a sustainable way.”
“Our participation in the Five Points community garden event is a productive and meaningful way to recognize the contributions of veterans and other residents in this neighborhood,” said Dr. Bill Doe, CEO of Veterans Green Jobs. “We thank WESTON for being a strong corporate partner, supporting veteran employment and doing exceptional environmental work for our communities. And the leadership of YouthBiz and Engage 8 in this project is essential to our ability to serve the Five Points community in particular. We could not have done it without these great partners working toward common goals.”
Photos and event info can be found on Facebook.
About Veterans Green Jobs
Veterans Green Jobs is a national nonprofit whose mission is to engage, transition and connect military veterans with meaningful employment opportunities that serve our communities and environment. With programs in eight states, Veterans Green Jobs offers training and hands-on experience, directly employs veterans, offers entrepreneurial opportunities and offers a national job placement model. See www.veteransgreenjobs.org for information.
About Weston Solutions
Based in West Chester, PA, Weston Solutions, Inc. (WESTON®) maintains full service offices in Lakewood and Colorado Springs. WESTON is a leader in environmental, sustainable, and energy solutions, property redevelopment, and design/build construction. Dedicated to making a difference in the world, the company’s 1,800 people reach out from 60 offices around the globe to build strong stakeholder relationships that work. WESTON has been responding to its clients’ toughest problems for more than 50 years. For more information about WESTON or subcontracting opportunities, visit www.westonsolutions.com.
YouthBiz advances the social and economic prosperity of youth. Despite the very real challenges these youth face, they choose to define themselves by their vision and tenacity, not by the stereotypical norms. As they connect with entrepreneurial leadership opportunities, they develop the skills and courage to launch the businesses that will fuel our economy and shape our communities. www.youthbiz.org.
About Engage 8
Engage 8 was founded on the premise that all the assets to create a sustainable, thriving, safe, and vibrant community already exist in the northeast Denver community – the missing ingredient was collaboration by existing entities focused on a collective impact. Today, the mission of Engage 8 is to enrich and empower residents of District 8 by supporting their ideas, building upon their strengths, sustaining existing community organizations, encouraging civic activity and developing innovative initiatives. Learn more at www.engage8.org.