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No squashed squash: Despite 500,000 Avs fans in Civic Center Park, not a petal out of place in gardens

Urban garden serves multiple nonprofits and feeds 7,200 annually
No squashed squash: Despite 500,000 Avs fans in Civic Center Park, not a petal out of place in gardens
Posted at 6:36 PM, Jul 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-01 20:37:18-04

DENVER — It is a labor of love.

“So rewarding,” said Barbara Masoner. “That’s why I’ve been doing this for 13 years.”

Masoner and Linda Kiker are the green thumbs who have been growing food in Civic Center Park for eight years now.

“We’ve got basil, we’ve got onions, we’ve got tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, a little bit of everything,” said Masoner.

The duo co-founded Grow Local Colorado and partner with Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC) to maintain the garden.

“It’s obviously beautiful to look at,” said Kellie Flowers, senior marketing director with VOC. “It kind of enhances the park. Volunteers that we bring out for these projects are sometimes as young as 8 years old.”

Last year alone, the groups harvested 1,800 pounds of food – enough for 7,200 meals.

So, you can imagine their nervousness when roughly 500,000 Colorado Avalanche fans converged on Civic Center Park this week to celebrate the Stanley Cup champs.

“You kind of wonder,” Masoner said. “That’s a lot of people in a little space.”

“You never know what’s going to happen,” Flowers said. “So, it’s great to see despite people being excited and having a lot to celebrate about, they still respected the gardens and the nature around them.”

No petal was out of place after the Stanley Cup celebration. The crowd kept its distance, respected the fences and gave the garden space.

Masoner, Kiker and Flowers are thrilled Avs fans didn’t crush the kale, trample the tomatoes or squash the squash.

“There’s a lot happening, and people respected what these gardens are about,” Masoner said. “It’s about sharing our time and making sure people without access to healthy food get that.”

The group will begin harvesting next week and distribute to nonprofits like S.A.M.E. Café, the Denver Rescue Mission and Metro Caring Food Pantry from now all the way through October.