About The Garden Project of Southwest Colorado


Our mission is to grow a healthier community through garden programs, education, and access to local produce.

We envision a community of healthy people eating from healthy land.

Tagline:  Growing a healthier community… one garden at a time!
Our Purpose & History:  
The Garden Project was founded in 1998 to provide therapeutic gardening experiences for at-risk youth in Durango, CO. Since then we have helped develop 22 school and community gardens in La Plata County. We’ve expanded our reach to work with people of all ages and experiences - believing that everyone, regardless of income, background or ability should have access to growing their own food and healthy nutrition.

Because 90% of Colorado kids don’t get enough fruits and veggies, and 50% of adults and 25% of kids are overweight or obese, we provide a diverse range of educational programs on gardening, cooking and nutrition, to expose Southwest Coloradoans to new fruits and veggies, and the skills to grow and prepare their own healthy food.

Annually we reach over 5,700 participants, provide over 8,400 educational hours, benefit from 2,300 volunteer hours, and harvest over 4,200 pounds of produce. Our target populations include youth and food-insecure families and individuals.

Our Main Gardens:
Manna Soup Kitchen Garden, Ohana Kuleana Community Garden, Needham Elementary School Garden and other school gardens in Durango 9R School District. 

Our Region: La Plata County, Colorado

Our Goals:

  • Food Security (access to healthy, local food for all)
    • Develop food security programs, with local partners, to connect food-insecure children and families with fresh, healthy, local food, while decreasing food waste within the community
    • Increase the number of sustainable (long term) community gardens in La Plata County, by offering ongoing support, best practices, trainings & workshops to create a vibrant network of community gardens
  • Health and Wellness (community and youth development)
    • Lead gardening, cooking and nutrition classes for youth, low-income families and the general public to increase self-sufficiency skills and agency in one’s own health and wellness
    • Link families with cooking nutrition resources, by collaborating with organizations like Cooking Matters, to ensure that families have the skills to best utilize fresh produce
  • Education (academic integration and environmental education)
    • Collaborate with local and national partners to build school garden lessons and Farm to School programs appropriate to Southwest Colorado and replicable across schools and counties
    • Increase the number of sustainable (long term) school gardens in La Plata County, by offering ongoing support, best practices, trainings & workshops to create a vibrant network of school gardens

Workplace Culture Principals:

Workplace Culture - The “personality” of our organization, the sum of our assumptions, values, beliefs, traditions, behaviors, and interactions, the patterns of behavior that determine HOW things get done.

Culture Principles - Statements of our shared commitments to one another (staff, board, volunteers, participants) describing the ways we work together to fulfill our mission, vision, and implement programs.

  • We are guided by our mission
    We are grounded in the needs of our community and strategic about making an impact. We value the process, how we do the work we do, as an integral part of accomplishing our mission and vision.
  • We are dedicated, joyful professionals
    We believe our work is important, we approach it with care, consciousness, and humility. We view our role as servant leaders in our community. We represent The Garden Project with practicality and professionalism. At the same time, we cultivate fun and joy because it nourishes, energizes, and connects us.
  • We work collaboratively
    We believe everyone has a unique, valuable contribution to make. We believe that good leaders recognize and develop the power and skills of others. Every team member is able and encouraged to weigh in and contribute to ideas and decisions. The team respects decisions, regardless of initial personal views, and endeavors to implement them with excellence. Our community and volunteers are the backbone of our organization and we rely on their needs and ideas to guide us. We cultivate community partnerships because each of our distinct contributions are needed and builds to a greater collective impact.
  • We use open communication
    Respect is the basis for all interactions. We believe people and our communities are important so we exhibit care, concern, and consideration for their needs and feelings. We are transparent. We listen in order to understand and assume a generous interpretation of others’ actions. Differing opinions and diverse perspectives are valued. We cultivate self awareness to communicate truthfully and kindly. We address conflict and discomfort openly to build greater understanding and cohesion.
  • We are all students / We are all teachers
    We embrace mistakes as essential to the learning process. We balance action with reflection. We learn by doing and teach by modeling. We cherish feedback and offer it responsibly and constructively.
  • We build each other up
    We respect the humanity, dignity, and power of each person. We show up to support each other, and ask for support when we need it. We recognize we are all whole people. We show appreciation for one another. We practice a healthy work/life balance, because we see that growing a healthier community starts with ourselves and our workplace.
  • We celebrate our interdependence
    We know that the health of individuals, our community, and the land are inextricably connected and we reflect that in our work. We value the wealth of resources that available  through each unique individual’s contribution to our community. The planet is precious and we consider the environmental impact of our actions using resources responsibly. These relationships, between people and with the natural world, are at the core of our strength.
  • We believe in strength through diversity
    We seek to create inclusive spaces, that reflect and celebrate the diversity of our community, for people of all backgrounds, lived experiences and abilities. We examine how traditional power dynamics impact experience and repress certain voices from being heard and from having power in decision making. We strive to offer culturally responsive programs and practices to ensure access for all people, especially those historically underserved by society.

Gratefully adapted from: The Edible Schoolyard Project
Download TGP's Workplace Culture Principals