Conversation about Community Gardening with Biostatistician Jill Litt

Earlier this month, Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s (IFFS) Nutrition, Farms and Gardens team had the pleasure of being among the first to view Jill Litt’s documentary, “A Garden In Every Neighborhood” at the Wake County Agricultural Services building. Dr. Litt, Associate Professor at the University of Colorado School of Public Health, is a leading researcher in public and environmental health and has been studying the impacts of community gardens on individuals and neighborhoods in Denver. Her documentary provided a first-hand glimpse of how gardens give residents a sense of belonging to a community, increase trust and reciprocity, and help to promote healthy behavior.  Learning about the nearly 100 community gardens and the impressive effects they have had on a diverse number of communities across Denver left everyone energized and hopeful for the future of the local food system in Wake County.

Later that morning, Dr. Litt joined us for lunch at the IFFS farm.  Under the trees near the main production field, we enjoyed a delicious lunch prepared by IFFS’s own Training Chef, Will Hall.  We shared our commitment to work with communities to grow their own gardens, as well as the local and state efforts to advocate and form partnerships that will support the local food system.

The day would not have been complete without a tour of the farm from Steven Horton, IFFS Assistant Farm Manager, where we saw the greenhouse and seedlings soon to be planted, vermicomposting operations, chickens and newly-built mobile chicken tractor. Throughout the tour, Food Shuttle staff seized the opportunity to ask Dr. Litt about her work and learn about the challenges and successes of growing gardens in urban Denver.

Dr. Litt’s visit not only inspired and energized us but helped us to understand the research that is going on to support community gardens, as well as how other communities have addressed the barriers that exist in community garden work across the country.