Meet Heather and Terrance from Denver, Colorado, United States

“We are avid outdoor enthusiasts and environmentalists who love to cook and learn about different cultures and cuisines. We have been married 4 years. Terrance handles things like structure building, irrigation, soil and disease prevention/maintenance, and pruning while Heather focuses on seed starting, harvesting, donating, and preserving the harvest. We are a dynamic backyard farm duo!

We were ultimately inspired by the climate crisis and our love of the outdoors. Growing our own food seemed to be in line with our love of being outside as well as our desire to do what we can as individuals to reduce our carbon footprint and thus minimize our environmental impact. We have lots of friends and family members who are successful gardeners who have helped inspire and teach us along the way. We started with a small raised bed in the corner of our barren yard about 4 years ago and when that was successful we decided that using our yard to grow food, rather than landscaping it would be a great use of the abundant space we are lucky to have in the city.

We want to do everything we can as individuals to live as sustainably as possible and at the same time help to promote food equity in our community, which is a food desert. Access to organic produce is very limited. We also live in the high plains where having a grass lawn doesn’t make much sense since water is scarce; to us, using that water to grow food is the most productive use of the resource. Food waste contributes up to 10% of methane gas emissions worldwide, so growing our own produce made sense to us to not only reduce our food waste by composting, but also to cut the distance our food has to travel before it reaches us.

Our growing space is approximately 1,350 square feet or .031 acre. We hope to expand into the front yard in the coming years. Keeping the soil covered whether by mulch or a cover crop in winter is a best practice. Amending the soil with good compost is also important. As far as pest management, we do our best to let nature balance itself, but do use neem oil from time to time if needed. We never use anything that would adversely affect our pollinators.

We buy organic seeds from a few companies like SeedSavers exchange or our local nursery and also swap seeds with friends and family. We are new to seed saving, but have started this year. We hope to organize a seed exchange this winter.

In Denver last week it was over 90 degrees one day and snowed the next. We have lots of harsh sunlight and unpredictable weather at a mile above sea level. Keeping our beds covered with a burlap shade/hail cover has helped immensely. There have been years where our garden was destroyed by hail, so having a way to protect our raised beds is crucial.

Being able to donate and share organic food with our community has been incredibly rewarding. Having a space that was once used as a parking lot, but now provides food and purpose is rewarding beyond comprehension. Finding new and creative ways to use our garden to reduce food/overall waste has been rewarding whether it involves repurposing an old bed frame as a blackberry trellis or learning to make dehydrated backpacking dinners. Sharing information with our wonderful community online and in our neighborhood has also been deeply rewarding. There is so much good knowledge out there and we are continually learning.

We have donated food to local organizations like Fresh Food Connect and our favorite restaurant’s free CSA boxes and hope to engage more with our neighborhood coop after the pandemic.

Taking action even on a small level is empowering and those actions can add up to something much greater. There are so many creative ways to reduce waste, repair, reuse, recycle etc. and an equal number of ways to give back to the community whether by sharing knowledge or sharing the harvest. Anyone anywhere can turn their yard into a beautiful and abundant food forest!”