I mentioned The GrowHaus (a nonprofit organization in Denver, CO) before. Today I wanted to delve more into this organization, perhaps highlight some of their best practices, and see exactly what they do, and, more importantly, why they’re good at what they do.
To start, check out their website. Pretty sweet. Upon first entry to the site you’re confronted with a powerful statement:
“Healthy food is a right, not a privilege”
I like it. Lets dig deeper.
As they say, “The GrowHaus is a nonprofit indoor farm in Denver’s Elyria-Swansea neighborhood. Our vision is to catalyze a neighborhood-based food system in our community that is healthy, equitable, and resident-driven.”
Sorry to disappoint, but it’s not a marijuana grow-op. I mean, the name “GrowHaus” sure sounds like it. But really, it’s about food. Fresh food. Good food. Healthy food.
Check out this video. It really breaks down the thought-process of the organization: what it’s objectives are, how it meets these objectives, why it exists, intelligent solutions to real world problems, and more. Watch it!
Less than Walmart prices? Did I hear that correctly? Makes us wonder what the real cost of food is….
I travelled to Colorado three times in the past year, visiting the GrowHaus twice. It’s located in downtown Denver, in a poor, heavily Latino populated community.
It’s in a neighborhood accompanied with several sets of train tracks – whistles blaring nearly every hour. There’s also an overpowering, industrial smell of processed dog food floating outside everywhere. Dog chow smells.
Outside, The GrowHaus looks like an old factory building with some graffiti…
… Walk inside, however, and you’re immediately greeted with smiling faces and a kind “hello.” It’s a welcoming place. Warm. Friendly.
Turning to your right: you see refrigerators, desks, and staff, surrounded by lettuce, tomatoes, spinach, kale, urugula, and fresh veggies in neat baskets with little price tags dangling off them. Turning to your left: a speaker lecturing a half dozen Latina women about some new permaculture principle or teaching how to cook with a particular kale variety. Walk to the “back” of the room and it opens up into the farm: a gigantic set of rooms filled with caged rabbits, fish, filters and water tanks, aquaponic systems, lettuces being grown in long hydroponic rows, workers bustling around…
I took these two photos on my second visit… Take them (it) in. Absorb its genius!
These are “permaculture principles.” And they don’t just apply to food… not by a long shot. This is a system of living. I talked about permaculture previously, so I won’t say much now. Suffice it to say it’s a system of values with positive reinforcement, intelligent and intentional design, and stimulating processes. Beautiful, really.
So the GrowHaus…
… Teaches: anyone that walks through their doors; people of any social class, any background. They grow food: locally based, responsibly created, organically induced, simply designed. They encourage sustainable activity: resourcefulness, thoughtfulness, and constant innovation. They inspire: do it yourself, create, distribute, share (and aspire).
In other words, they change lives through food.
Perhaps the greatest of all their gifts is their adherence to these principles of permaculture. As previously stated, it’s a system of living, not an action.
In the end, though…
… They inspire the downtrodden with a smile, a class, a lesson, a growing technique, a rabbit, a chicken, a community. They remind everyone that they’re not alone, and that others care. That gift, is invaluable.
(Amazing, what community does… isn’t it?)