The gardeners at El Oasis Community Garden enjoyed a small victory earlier this month. Their move-out date was extended to October 18, giving them two more weeks to enjoy their garden’s bounty. It was a small reprieve from the bad news they’d learned from Denver Urban Gardens, which owns the land, less than a month earlier: two-thirds of El Oasis was under contract to be sold.
The sale, brought about to cover the nonprofit’s outstanding debt, is meant to sustain the organization’s ability to provide for more than 180 other gardens it maintains around the city. Without the sale’s revenue, DUG could cease to exist. But once the land — sold in good faith to the nonprofit for $1 in 1988 — is developed, it cannot be replaced.
“I find myself in a pickle,” says Denver City Councilwoman Amanda Sandoval, who’s been contacted by many of her constituents about the sale. “I understand. I’m empathetic to their concerns. … I wish we weren’t in this particular situation for all involved. I think it’s pitting neighbors against a nonprofit that does a lot of really good community work.”
While the El Oasis community celebrated the additional two weeks to garden, they still question the chain of events that led to the sale.
She’s not the only one to feel that there’s no good option. Rachel Bygrave, the garden leader of DUG’s Whittier Garden, expressed frustration that the DUG board hadn’t been transparent about its financial situation. “The gardeners all across the city weren’t able to rally,” she says. “I hope they looked at every possibility… It’s disappointing that people didn’t have an advance [notice], because we can’t lose DUG either. That’s not a good solution.”
El Oasis gardeners hoped that media attention and public pressure could cause Caliber