Eat Your Greens 4: Back to school at Fairview

The youth run farmers market at Fairview gives locals access to fresh produce

Some of the young gardeners have moved on and graduated from Fairview.  Will they be able to entice some new ones at the back to school night?

Host Intro: According to the Food Research and Action Center, a lack of money in households can contribute to both hunger and obesity.  It seems like a paradox but households without money to buy nutritionally adequate food are often forced to rely on cheaper high calorie and less nutritious food which can lead to obesity.  Even when healthier foods are available, a lack of nutrition education and familiarity with certain foods can be additional barriers to achieving good nutrition. In our series “Eat Your Greens” KGNU’s Maeve Conran has been looking at some programs which try to overcome these barriers by teaching elementary school children about good nutrition. In this next installment well hear from one particular school who are trying to overcome formidable barriers in the community to give everyone access to fresh healthy vegetables.

Groups Featured in this report include: Denver Urban Gardens, 303.292.9900,

Full Text:

Host Lead: In our week long series ‘eat your greens’ we’ve already heard from a couple of elementary schools taking part in an innovative nutrition program that tries to educate parents and the community through their grade school children. One school goes even further with its own community garden which brings obvious benefits, as Judy Elliot from Denver Urban Gardens explains:


Judy: The kids are thriving it gets them away from the TV, it gets them around other youth and other cultures that they’re not familiar with?I think they’re looking for things to do that are healthy?.


But with some of the intrepid gardeners and nutritionists graduating and moving on, what does the future hold for the garden?  KGNU’s Maeve Conran finds out as she meets the next generation of gardeners in this installment of ?eat your greens?.


Narration: It’s back to school open night at Fairview Elementary. And parents and students check in at the front desk.

Greeters: There’s a sign in sheet, and if you sign the back of these, you’re entered into a raffle just for the mothers?..

Fades under narration:

Narration: This neighborhood faces many problems. It has one of the lowest median household incomes in Denver as well as one of the highest crime rates.  But there is tremendous community spirit present, and droves of families come to check out what the school has to offer.

If you start off in the stage area of the auditorium that’s where you go next?.

Fades under narration:

Narration: Parents and new students are directed through a series of presentations about different classes and activities, amongst them, the gardening nutrition program?..

Judy: Right here, 6 years, this is year 6.

Lisa: We have the youth farmers market that some of the kids from Mr. Diehl’s class have been running?..

Narration: Lisa Noblack and Judy Elliot with Denver Urban Garden’s try to entice a new generation of young gardeners with stickers and crayons and pictures of the schools market garden.?.

Child: What’s this?

Lisa: Those are kids working at the farmers market where they’re selling the vegetables they?ve been growing, so we sell the vegetables really cheap because we think it’s important for people to eat fresh vegetables, do you know why?

Child: No

Lisa: Because it’s good for your body, it has lots of vitamins and minerals to make your body strong. (fades under narration)

Narration: With some of the children who have made the garden such a success graduating and moving on from Fairview, it’s important to reach out to a new generation of Fairview students.  According to Judy Elliot, the earlier they can get the children in the garden, the better.

Judy 2: The younger we can get to them, the more we can get peer pressure to kick in, and kids learn that Romaine lettuce isn?t so bad and speckled lettuce isn?t so bad.  There are things other than pink tomatoes that bounce from the supermarket, and the longer we can keep them involved in the whole process of growing, the more we can get them to nurture their bodies in a healthy way.

Narration: But it’s not just the children they need to convince.  If parents aren?t on board with the program, it won?t succeed.  As this mother explains, in Sun Valley there is much more to worry about than good nutrition.

Spanish speaking mother: (speaking in Spanish describing drugs as main problem in neighborhood. )  marijuana, marijuana?.

Narration: She’s more concerned about the drug use in the neighborhood

Spanish speaking mother: muchos malos?.

Narration: Judy Elliot listens to residents complaints about problems in the neighborhood and explains how a community garden can help turn things around.

Judy : ? So we?ve heard from several people that there are drugs and alcohol?they would like to see classes offered in how to use produce, they have no idea how to do that.  There’s lack of washer dryer facilities.  Several people have mentioned that there is a lack of grocery stores in the neighborhood.

Maeve: And how does your program, how does Denver Urban Gardens, how would they address any of these issues?

Judy: I think one of the things, if we could get more people into the feeling of when you grow your own vegetables you provide some of the food for your family, that would be great.  We’re also working on the next year, the second year the farmers market, making it more permanent, making it a more permanent structure, maybe talking to the one grocery store in the neighborhood to get them to offer more fresh fruits and vegetables.

Narration: Without this type of community outreach, classes like the nutrition and gardening program would not succeed.  A community garden only works with the support of the community.  So with a fresh batch of first grade gardeners recruited to the program, back to school night is a success.  The next challenge is getting the rest of the community involved, and not just Sun Valley.  Denver Urban Gardens has big dreams of reaching out to many similar neighborhoods with a Tri Community Festival..

Lisa; September 25th is going to be the last day of the farmers market and we’re having a tri community and pot luck?right out here where the garden is?..

Fades out under narration

Narration: Can they pull it off? With Summer coming to a close and the end of the Summer’s farmers market looming, can they attract enough community interest to keep the program going? We’ll find out in the next installment of Eat your Greens.