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El Oasis community gardeners lament the loss of green space after land sale to developer

Posted at 8:36 PM, Sep 25, 2020

DENVER — One thing gardeners grow accustomed to is change. From daily temperature fluctuations to seasonal weather patterns, change is inevitable.

However, one plot of land in Denver's LoHi neighborhood appeared, at least temporarily, immune from the constant changes and growth that is so visible nearby. The green sanctuary sits across the street from modern developments and an ever blooming skyline of new endeavors reaching upwards.

"Denver is experiencing this explosive growth that is positive in many ways," said Julie Kinamore, a gardener of four years at El Oasis Community Garden. "It was such a relief to know that this space would remain a sacred green space."

But 2020 has ushered in changes that even the most prepared gardener could not have predicted. El Oasis's nonprofit management group, Denver Urban Gardens, has sold two-thirds of the lot to a development group called Caliber Construction.

"A tough decision had to be made due to our current financial situation, the state of philanthropy, and the uncertainties related to the pandemic," said Ramona Robinson of Denver Urban Gardens in a statement. "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."

The news about the sale was broken to the gardeners at El Oasis in early September. They say they have until October 4 to move their plots to the northern third of the property where the new garden will be set up.

"We are going to be boxed in by houses so this is no longer going to be a green space for the community," lamented Kinamore.

Property values in Denver continue their upward trajectory, even amid the coronavirus pandemic. Denver Urban Gardens is contracted to sell the 2/3 plot for $1.2 million. The current tenants of the land say, however, that land value cannot replace a community space like El Oasis.

"I want people to see this garden as a space everyone in the community — everyone — can enjoy and can appreciate. Because if it just turned into duplexes, it wont be appreciated as much," said Kasey King, a new gardener in the green space. "There is more value to this land than building duplexes."