Sister Gardens is more than 1 acre of vegetable and herb garden on the Aria Denver development in the Chaffee Park neighborhood. Sister Gardens is also the center and heart of our network of farms and gardens. When we took over Sister Gardens is was a disused orchard that had been lovingly stewarded by Sisters of St. Francis who have lovingly the site since 1938, who the farm is named after. However, the land had been unfarmed for years and we not only brought back the food production on this land, but reawakened community cultivation here.
Sister Gardens is deigned as a completely terraced area. Terracing is an ancient practice we honor from the times of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon to Machu Picchu in the Incan Empire. Terracing is a regenerative system our ancestors passed down to us; a system which captures nutrients at different levels of run off, and decreases erosion and nutrient leaching amongst other benefits.
Another design feature at Sister Gardens is the Reese Grant-Cobb Memorial meditation labyrinth which is ringed by Chinese apricot and Cherry trees. These trees number among our 15 fruit bearing trees and half dozen berry bushes. We grow medicinal and insectary perennials in close proximity to our annual beds in order to leverage their multiple functions.
Sister Gardens is also home to our Black Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) foodways which occupy 3 of our 5 terraces in the lower part of the farm. As BIPOC people and the children of immigrants we understand and highlight the cultural significance of the foods that we grow to provision ourselves and our community. Foodways in this sense refers to the persistence of people to remain consistent in the perpetuation and production of particular culturally rooted, regionally adapted foods. We have worked over several years to build an archive of seeds for our African, Middle Eastern and and Four Corners bio-regional terraces. This practice of seed saving and continuing cultural crops harkens back to African women, who were stolen from their homes to be enslaved in the USA, bringing seeds across the ocean by braiding them into their hair in at least tacit acknowledgement that they may never see their homes and fields again.
Both an education and production farm, we place as much emphasis on providing opportunities to learn about food as we do growing it. Centering community in our vision, we focus on nourishing our communities first. This includes the neighborhoods we work in and the farmers that grow the food. We do not divide parcels of land to community members but rather work together to feed and nourish as many as we can.