Rose Roots History: Grassroots Community Engagement Results in Community Garden

Interviewer: Erin Newton,, (303) 253-5090

Interviewee: John Chisum on May 2, 2019, Rose Roots Community Garden Founder along with Gina Schley, Garden Founder.

1. The neighborhoods around Rose Roots were established between 20 and 30 years ago and are called Five Parks to the West and Lakecrest to the East. How did the idea come about to create a community garden on city park open space between these neighborhoods? What were the initial goals and vision?

I lived next door to Gina Schley, and she was a real driver. We heard the area might be slated for more houses or tennis courts. In order to preserve the open space feel between developments, Gina contacted city council and Bob Dyer and shared that the Community of Five Parks had a plot of land that was designated as park land and the community was interested in having a community garden in addition to the five parks that were developed. The team applied for a city grant of $175,000 and proposed community agriculture as well as a CSA and an orchard which hasn’t yet been built out. They added a through way sidewalk to unite communities. At the end of the first three seasons we offered gardeners surveys with questions like “how many community members have you met?” And “how much more do you walk?” And “how many more vegetables do you eat?” We got positive feedback from respondents suggesting they felt more integrated in their community.

A private property to the east of the garden was offered grazing land for their llamas in exchange for the agreement to have the garden and walkway. The council wanted to preserve the agricultural and open space feel.

2. How did you come up with the Rose Roots Name?

There was a historic well and a small homesteading house to the west of the garden and the owners last name was “Rose” so the name was chosen to preserve a link with regional history.

3. What was the process of establishing the garden and costs? How did you become a member of Denver Urban Gardens?

Gina led several women from the CSA who helped write the grant proposal. I served as an advisor in how to create non-profits. There were others in the community who wanted to create a 501c3 after the model the Arvada Gardeners used, who used to be called the “Arvada Men’s Gardening Club”. Denver Urban Gardens holds a contract with the city of Arvada, so they offered master Gardener classes to our leaders and through community meetings to offer community information. DUG offered a template on how to start a new garden and supported the community meetings efforts. DUG offered suggestions of layout, plot sizes, pricing, and designed auto cad drawings. The city did all the watering infrastructure, leveled the land, put up the perimeter fence, and provided insurance. Our volunteers built the plots including the ADA beds, the composters and two small sheds provided by Leadership Arvada who are tied to the Arvada Chamber of Commerce. It is a leadership development organization comprised of adults who seek out community projects and they built and funded the two sheds. This is our 18th season so the actual physical development of the garden came together in the Spring of 2011 with planning starting several years before.