MHLV 04: Shannon Spurlock & Rebecca Andruska | Denver Urban Gardens

“…Now there’s definitely such an interest in community gardening and local food production that right now, the need and the excitement about our work is overwhelming.” – Rebecca Andruska, Denver Urban Gardens

In this episode, I’m talking with Shannon Spurlock (Director of Public Affairs & Policy) and Rebecca Andruska (Director of Development & Communications) with Denver Urban Gardens (DUG).

Shannon started her journey with Denver Urban Gardens seven years ago as a volunteer before joining DUG full-time about five years ago. Rebecca is newer to DUG but comes from a family of gardeners and is passionate about social justice and non-profit organizations.

Denver Urban Gardens is celebrating their 30th anniversary this year. DUG opened its first community garden in 1970 and incorporated the group in 1985. Today, DUG operates nearly 150 all-organic community gardens throughout Metro Denver, including more than 40 school-based community gardens. In addition community gardens, DUG operates a community farm, several training programs and seed distribution programs with the support of over 5,000 volunteers each year.


  • How DUG partners with groups like Parks & Recreation, the Housing Authority and various school districts to build community and put land to good use
  • All about DUG’s community gardens as well as their other major programs
  • What inspired Shannon and Rebecca to work with DUG
  • How community gardens drive positive cultural change through community empowerment and self-determination
  • How DUG school gardens impact children’s’ eating habits, as well as parents
  • How much healthier community gardeners often are at every stage of their life
  • How DUG has grown from 3 gardens in 1985 to 150 today
  • What the Denver Sustainable Food Policy Council is and what it hopes to achieve
  • Why community gardens are a special kind of community outreach
  • How community gardens reflect the community and its values
  • How a community can start their own garden and the key success enablers
  • How DUG is facing challenges like demand for land, maintaining long-term use agreements and engaging institutional partners
  • DUG’s vision for the future including expanding their garden network and growing composting in Denver communities
  • Upcoming events like composting classes (April – October)
  • How essential volunteers are to DUG’s efforts
  • The wide variety of volunteer opportunities typically available (both indoors and outdoors)



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