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Denver nonprofit makes sure community gardens are prepared for start of school

Izzy Petersen
Posted at 10:00 PM, Aug 04, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-07 09:45:47-04

DENVER — Summer is coming to an end for students in the Denver Public Schools system. Ahead of the first day of school on Aug. 21, a Denver nonprofit is making sure school gardens are taken care of.

“SustainEd Farms is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that works specifically with Denver Public Schools. What we do is help maintain school gardens,” said Matt Suprunowicz, co-founder of SustainEd Farms. “We teach students about sustainability and nutrition using the gardens and then we distribute all the food to food insecure communities across Denver.”

Suprunowicz founded SustainEd Farms with Izzy Petersen.

Denver nonprofit makes sure community gardens are prepared for start of school

As a former teacher in Oklahoma, Petersen saw the challenges firsthand.

“One of the stories we tell is about a student who is a junior or senior in high school,” said Petersen. “They see broccoli for the first time growing out of the ground and say, ‘I thought broccoli grew on trees.’ You see students not knowing where their food is from.”

The team of volunteers at SustainEd Farms handle several tasks including weeding gardens, organizing sheds, and painting new signage.

“School gardens are really challenging over the summer because sometimes there’s literally nobody here,” Suprunowicz said. “So, it’s really important for us to make sure that we maintain these learning spaces.”

It’s people like Petersen that keep the organization going smoothly and her colleagues could not agree more.

“Since the beginning, Izzy has always brought a lot of joy and passion to the work,” said Aimee Martinez, founding board member of SustainEd Farms. “You can see she is so ready to be in the gardens, but also centers children along every decision we make as a board.”

“I think she’s one of those people who embodies lead by example,” said Allison Chapin, board of directors’ member for SustainEd Farms. “She is always willing to jump in and get her hands dirty and nothing is above her. She is always willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.”

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