DENVER — People are being forced to say goodbye to a beloved community garden in the LoHi neighborhood.
Denver Urban Gardens (DUG) is selling the "El Oasis Community Garden" to a developer for $1.2 million, according to a website made in an effort to save the garden.
The website explained why DUG was making the sale, saying, “we were told that DUG was in a dire financial situation, running annual deficits of $200k a year, and had taken on increasing amounts of debt with El Oasis as collateral.”
A letter sent to gardeners from DUG says:
“After careful consideration of our current financial situation, the state of philanthropy, and the uncertainties related to the pandemic, the board has made the difficult decision to sell part of the land on which El Oasis Community Garden sits in northwest Denver. This decision was not made quickly or lightly; however, the sale is critical in order to continue to serve our community of 17,500 gardeners throughout metro Denver and to grow in the future.”
A couple that lives across the street from the garden, Lara and Jed MacKenzie, said the community found out about the sale over a Zoom call, and were never given the opportunity to help save the garden.
“It's really surprising that they're actually selling off a garden when they are in place to protect it as a nonprofit,” Lara MacKenzie said. “I understand times are tough, but we would help them raise money if they just would bring us in and make these decisions with us rather than after the fact.”
Lara MacKenzie said the garden has benefitted the community in numerous ways.
“The garden has been a source of food, education and wellness for families in our community, especially during a pandemic when people are overwhelmed, unemployed and depression is at an all-time high," she said. "So, we really do not want to lose our garden which is contributing to our community all the time, but now more than ever.”
If current plans proceed, El Oasis gardeners must vacate by Oct. 4, according to the “Save El Oasis” website.
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