Meet Us On Alameda -- Steele Community Garden

From Red Rocks to the big white balls of Buckley Air Force Base, Alameda Avenue runs through Lakewood, Denver and Aurora, collecting a series of religious, cultural and ethnic hubs along the way.

Westword drove Alameda from one end to another for the fifth in our ocassional profiles of metro Denver roads. Our feature story can be found here. (Our previous journeys took on Broadway, Colfax, Federal and Sheridan.) The following is a Web-only extra.

Steele Community Garden 320 South Marion Parkway 8:30 a.m.

A woman with white hair and jeans kneels near a garden plot, pulling a weed in the mid-morning heat. Just a few feet and a chain-link fence separate her from the cars and buses on busy Alameda as it squeezes through the Washington Park neighborhood.

But then, Denver Urban Gardens wouldn’t be “urban” without the noise and the traffic. For two decades, DUG has given people with no growing space of their own a chance to plant and cultivate tomatoes, corn, roses, squash, spinach and whatever else their green thumbs can coax from the ground in communal enclaves that need as much careful tending as the plots themselves. DUG now operates around eighty gardens.

Inside the Steele Community Garden, located near the corner of Marion Street on the grounds of Steele Elementary School, seven-foot-high sunflowers, buzzing bees and butterflies and the smell of green tomatoes ripening seem to block out some of the urban.

There are more than three dozen little plots here, some of them watered and weeded to perfection, others a little lopsided, overgrown, even dried out. Colorado has a short growing season, but no dearth of crops and flowers that take to the soil. The people who care for these plots — many are senior citizens who walk from nearby apartment complexes — can be more passionate about peas and peonies than politics.

“My plot is the one to the right of the compost bin. 2 tomato plants, beets, etc.,” reads a sign tacked to a shed inside the garden. “I will be out of town M-Fri. If you have time to water my patch, please. Thanks.

In a community garden, you reap what you sow. — Jonathan Shikes

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