Adventures in Denver, Colorado

[Denver, Colorado. Length of stay: 3 days.]

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Semi-squatting

My accommodation is in a cooperative house beside Cheesman Park, a large public green area that was once a cemetery, in the west part of town. The house I am staying in is owned by an aged lady who waited until her husband had passed before she opened her doors to creatives and folk who were short the 1,200 dollars typical of a monthly rent in Denver. The house is dimly lit and brimming with plants, how-to books and objects heavy with family history. Rent I am told is 350. Those that live there are in and out of college and are slowly changing the world.

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Denver has a 6.1% vacancy rate, according to the Denver Post May 2nd 2016 article. As described by a fellow coffee-drinker while looking up weed cultivation tips in a cafe where the only face-to-face conversations are over facetime, Denver is “a rising city where hobbies are more important then jobs.”

Denver has been described as cold and lacking a community feel by someone who moved from Detroit, Michigan.

Welton Street Cafe, Five Points

Five Points is the historic black neighbourhood. Remnants of this community remain in long-standing institutions such as the Welton Street Cafe, a family-owned family-filled cafe that has fried okra, yam, beans&rice, four types of bread and multiple types of fish fried golden along with jerk chicken and covered pork to offer. The plates are large, the flowers are colourfully fake and the tram passes frequently outside the windows with their netted curtains. Welton’s cafe’s regulars are slowly being priced out of their neighbourhood.

Everyone wants to move to Denver. The lady at the bar in 21C Louisville, Kentucky on the 5th of July 2016 hears Denver is a good place to go. Everyone wants to move to Denver. Boulder, Colorado, explicitly does not want anymore people to move to Boulder, Colorado.

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Bean Acres University Farm

So, what of the green stuff in this rising city? What of the urban agriculture (that green stuff, that oxymoron)? There are many farmer’s markets, most of which are focused solely on producers. At the market I attend in Union Square of a Saturday there are eight vegetable stalls, three fruit stalls, one goat’s cheese, one charcuterie, one stall of flowers and one selling honey. I talk to Bean Acres, two men worked a three-acre plot at Warren Tech, a “career and technical education center for Jeffco public school” according to the website, which is at once a for-profit and educational venture. Here is a farm that is providing a direct and practical link between future farmers and future chefs. Josh, the driving force behind Bean Acres, is a strong proponent of Slow Food. He gives me a bumper sticker and a pin. I buy a handful of snow peas for five dollars. Real food is not cheap.

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Farmer’s Market Round 2

Dazed from the night before, I wander off and shell peas on a cafe stool, feeling faintly like a bum. My initiative returns and I go back to take some all-important visual documentation. Bean Acres are packing away the last of their ramps and golden beets so I pose a flurry of questions to an unsuspecting neighbouring vendor. Apparently she started working in the food business and was so transformed by the taste of seasonal young turnip that she signed on to Attra and began a new life as a farmer. She has been working with an established farmer, Picaflor, for two years and is interested in purchasing her own land but is unsure about where the money will come from. There is very little federal support or aid for new farmers which has led to there being very few new American farmers. Much like there is very little chance of moving to Denver.

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Doing in Denver

Denver Urban Gardens

The Growhaus

Revision Coop

Denver Tool Library

Cojacks, the Colorado Dollar

Double Up Colorado, a Food Dollars Initiative taken from a similar Michigan model.

  • Cojacks, Colorado’s independent currency.

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