DENVER — The nonprofit Denver Urban Gardens(DUG) is one of six Colorado groups sharing $4 million in funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to advance environmental justice programs across the state.
DUG will receive $500,000 over the next three years. The two EPA grant programs are funded through the Inflation Reduction Act.
“There are just glaring disparities in the west area versus other neighborhoods in Denver," said Linda Appel Lipsius, executive director of DUG.
Lipsius said the group will use the money to expand their Food Forest Initiative. It includes the planting of trees and the development of community gardens in West Denver neighborhoods. The focus will be on communities with some of the city’s lowest tree canopy, areas with food deserts and neighborhoods with poor air quality.
"Being able to grow your own food, especially culturally relevant food, is really critical," said Lipsius.
Marginalized communities are disproportionately burdened by the consequences of climate change. Lipsius said the growing of trees and gardens can provide affordable food and help reduce water and air pollution.
"Our society has really lost touch with where our food comes from," said Lipsius. "This helps with water, soil, and really helps build community."
Additional programs receiving funding from the EPA include the National Wildlife Federation for its tree planting initiative in the Globeville neighborhood in Denver and the Bessemer Historical Society for providing electric bicycles to Pueblo residents.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the City and County of Denver will receive $1 million each in funding from the Environmental Justice Government-to-Government Program.
"I'm glad the EPA has recognized this need," said Lipsius.