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'We’re putting in joy and happiness:' Community garden brings peace to Wash Park neighborhood

Lisa Negri created the garden in a lot next to her home to help curb development in the neighborhood.

DENVER, Colorado — A gray, fall day doesn’t exactly bring up thoughts of spring, but when you’re a gardening fanatic like Lisa Negri, this time of year is really exciting. 

It’s when the bulbs go into the ground.

“Today we’re putting in 4,000 bulbs,” Negri said. “Today we’re putting in joy and happiness. That’s what happens in spring--everything comes up and we get hope. After 2020 we need hope.”

Negri’s garden has an interesting backstory. In April 2019, the retired CEO bought the house next door to her Wash Park home for $780,000, because she was committed to stopping the continuous cycle of development in her neighborhood. She started planning a community garden with Kevin Williams, who is a horticulture specialist at Denver Botanic Gardens.

RELATED: Neighbor who wanted to avoid new construction bought Wash Park lot to start community garden

The house came down, and SummerHome Garden was born when the first plants went in Spring 2020. It’s now an oasis in the city, where people in her neighborhood and beyond come for a little relaxation and peace—and time in the dirt.

“I have about 35 volunteers and they’re more committed than I am - at times - to this,” Negri said. “People have been at home and stuck at home, and this has been perfect timing. They’re able to come out and social distance and wear a mask.”

She said she would not be able to keep up with the garden work without help.

And, she said it’s taught her a lesson about people.

“I think I have found a calm and contentment and a belief in people that I never had—this is kindness in its glory out here,” Negri said.

Credit: KUSA

Williams said he’s grateful for the opportunity to work on the project. He also said he understands why people are so eager to volunteer.

“People want to be a part of something that feels like it’s making a difference,” Williams said.

With the addition of the bulbs, which will start popping up in spring, SummerHome Garden now has more than 70 species of plants.

“We’re really overdoing it, if you ask me,” Negri said, laughing at herself as she sprinkled even more seeds among some already grown plants.

She said she's found beauty among the flowers and plants in SummerHome Garden, and she’s also found friendship.

"People are really truly good,” Negri said. “Most people are really kind.”

SummerHome Garden is located near Washington Park at 651 South Vine Street. To sign up to volunteer, check out the garden’s website here.

Credit: KUSA

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