DENVER (CBS4) – Fanzi Pitzer is a member of El Oasis Community Garden in Denver. They’re fighting to keep the community together after Denver Urban Gardens announced plans to sell the property.
“It’s both for gardening as well as community,” Pitzer said. “All of us were in shock to be quite honest.”
Members grow their own food and support local food banks like Bienvenidos Food Bank in Denver. The land near 35th Avenue and Shoshone Street was donated to Denver Urban Gardens for $1 in 1988.
Under the sale, two-thirds of the land would be used for the development of duplexes. The other third would remain a community garden. But with more than 40 plots, not everyone would get to stay.
“Back in June, Denver Urban Gardens decided to go into contract with Caliber Construction, so they’re selling this to Caliber for $1.2 million. We had no idea,” Pitzer told CBS4’s Andrea Flores. “They actually didn’t tell us until the beginning of September, right after we had the first snowstorm.”
Members of El Oasis believe Denver Urban Gardens dug itself into a financial hole.
“They had never told us or warned us before that this garden was securing their growing debt,” Pitzer said.
Denver Urban Gardens Board of Directors President Ramonna Robinson released this statement to CBS4:
“We’re extremely sad to be in the position to reduce the size of El Oasis Community Garden; however, we’re relieved to be able to keep a portion of the land for a community garden in perpetuity. A tough decision had to be made due to our current financial situation, the state of philanthropy, and the uncertainties related to the pandemic. Selling two-thirds of one garden will allow Denver Urban Gardens to continue our important mission and serve our community of 17,500 gardeners in more than 180 gardens throughout metro Denver.”
With more than plots at El Oasis Community Garden, Pitzer says it’s more than a place to grow food, it’s part of the family.
“We’re still going to continue to fight for the garden and hope that something will change,” Pitzer said.
Gardeners have been told they have to be out of the space by Oct. 18. The sale of the land is supposed to be finalized on Dec. 1.