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Huerta Urbana: New urban farming program sprouts in Denver

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Participants in Denver's Huerta Urbana program cultivate fresh vegetables

DENVER — Over the course of the pandemic, countless Coloradans relied on the many food drives and pantries available to the public.

The economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing shutdowns left millions of people without food. In late 2020, a Census Bureau survey found that 18 million American adults sometimes or often did not have enough food to eat.

A new program in Denver is working to address food insecurity in the Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods.

The program is called Huerta Urbana, and it's operated by the nonprofit Focus Points Family Resource Center, which also runs the popular Comal Heritage Food Incubator. The goal of Huerta Urbana is to teach families how to grow and then distribute fresh produce in their neighborhoods. 

Colorado VoicesHuerta Urbana

A new urban farming program in the Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods

“Not only is it going to be a farm, but a workforce development opportunity, earn-what-you-learn program,” explained Matthew Vernon, the director of social enterprise at Focus Point.

Elizabeth Dikeman is participating in Huerta Urbana this year.

Big Green provided dozens of free plants and seeds at the launch day for Huerta Urbana.

“I wanted to learn how to grow because I wanted to learn how to eat healthier,” she explained. “Things that you grow, I think, are a little bit healthier.”

Access to healthy food is also important. And with this program, Dikeman said, “you don’t have to depend on a grocery store.” That is key for the Globeville and Elyria-Swansea neighborhoods, which are considered food deserts, meaning grocery stores are especially difficult to reach for low-income residents.

The idea for Huerta Urbana started about a year and a half ago, Vernon explained. Focus Point’s goal is to have 20 participating families over the course of the next three years.

Karen Bustillo, who likes growing food at her home, is part of this inaugural class of Huerta Urbana participants. She said there’s a lack of organic food in her community, and that Huerta Urbana can not only provide it but make it more affordable.

“We’re just really excited for this program to come in and help us out,” she said, “and [to] continue it on for the other generations that are growing here.”

Julio Sandoval is a multimedia journalist at Rocky Mountain PBS. You can reach him at

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