WHO WE ARE
We are a food justice and farmer advocacy group led by women and People of Color. We are a community engaged in food production and education along the Front Range on three different farm plots. We grow high quality, organic food which supports fair wages for our farmers and is distributed through sales to a network of restaurants and institutional purchasers, sliding scale sales at farm stands and donations to a variety of non-profit partners.
We undertake our work in order to honor the land and the community we cultivate. As educators we engage a range of individuals from elders to toddlers in ethical and sustainable growing practices that enhance land and community connections. We have done all of this while helping to build and expand a network of farms and farmers who mutually support one another’s work and vision of agriculture in Denver.
OUR FRAMEWORK FOR ACTION
We work at the intersection of food because we know that food shapes cultures, societies, where we work, and how we are valued. Our work to create changes in the food system is one way in which we can bring greater structural change and equity to systems that articulate profit as the only motivation.
Our work is divided into three strategies (which are also not always mutually exclusive) of food security, food justice, and food sovereignty. While sovereignty is the end goal, we know that our work is not linear and that we must approach our real problems at multiple levels simultaneously.
Addressing immediate food needs of our communities and offering the foods they want. Food security is not meant to end hunger, but rather ensure that all people, at all times, have access to enough food for an active, healthy life. That all people have healthy and safe food available and that this food supports them culturally and socially.
Addressing the institutions that perpetuate the segregation and distribution of food, and appealing to those same systems for change. Food Justice means appealing to the system as it is to support our communities' rights to grow, sell, and eat fresh, nutritious, affordable, culturally appropriate food within our current social and political systems.
Addressing the true spiritual, mental, and physical needs of our communities and being in control of the means of production. We believe this looks like self representation, questioning epistemologies, centering future leaders and knowledge keepers, sustaining and expanding our foodways, creating ceremony and and centering ourselves in future world visions.
WE GROW COMMUNITY:
Our farms are a place where people from the community come together. Natural events such as solstice and equinox are held in the garden. Land is a powerful unifier where people from all walks of life came come to their own healing and prosperity. Our farm land hosts hundreds of people yearly who show up to work collaboratively, to learn, and to eat. Our farms have both places of gathering and of solitude. Through our on-farm education we create spaces where people of all ages, identities, and life paths can come learn along side neighbors. With shared meals, such as our World Heritage Potlucks, we are able to laugh with full mouths and bellies, and understand each other a little better. This is how we use land and food.
WE GROW COMMUNITY:
advocacy & policy
Under the leadership of our farmers, our work and reputation for advocating for farmer and farm labor rights, for good food, and for food justice has grown regionally and nationally. We have cultivated close partners in our neighborhoods and are active in local, state, and national food movement. Our leadership yearly speak as panelists, keynotes, and guest speakers for numerous summits, radio stations, and public forums. We are represented on local commissions, policy councils and working groups. In 2021, we along with our partners across the state successfully passed Colorado Senate Bill 21-087: Concerning Agricultural Workers' Rights. This historic bill made Colorado the first state to pass sweeping legislation to address structural racism in agriculture labor laws (Read More Here).
WE GROW COMMUNITY: preservation of culture
We strive to hold our farms as a space that honors diversity in people and land. As people move across land and through time, our farms offer solid ground for various cultural traditions including offering land blessings, holding traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremonies, and the passage of heirloom and stewarded seeds from one generation to the next.
Since 2016, we've dedicated an area of Sisters Gardens to growing and seed saving for Bio-Regional foodways -- crops historically grown on this part of the continent. In 2018, we added to our foodways areas to include farm space for African Diaspora foodways and Arab foodways. Many of these seeds were brought by our own family members, or gifted by our community and farm neighbors. Today we continue to dedicate space on our farms for foodways as requested by our community and farmers.
WE GROW SOIL
FrontLine Farming operates as a multi-plot farm committed to providing food to people of low income and lack of access to healthy food. We know that health food and healthy minds comes from healthy soil. Below are some of our farming practices that we use to ensure we are in right relation with the land we steward.
Conservation Tilling Practices
Conservation tilling allows more water to infiltrate the soil, sequesters carbon, and increases organic matter retention and cycling of nutrients in the soil. This type of soil management is proven to prevent soil erosion and soil compaction. These practices also maintain the diversity of life and organisms which improves the soil biological fertility making the soils more resilient.
Our farms are irrigated by drip irrigation. Our drip system saves water and nutrients by allowing water to drip slowly and directly to the roots of plants. This system of watering directly to the root zone minimizes evaporation and conserves water that is lost from overhead watering systems. Our water application efficiency is high as we check our lines as an almost daily ritual and we reduce fertilizer and nutrient leaching from our soils.
Approximately half an acre of land at Sisters Gardens was a giant hill when we started farming on the land. Over our tenure on the land we have terraced the land and added permaculture systems of berms and swales. Terracing reduces erosion of soils because the nutrients are not washed away but instead carried to the next level. Swales compliment this system by creating ditches that help retain or slow down the movement of water. We are a unique example of a terraced farm area in Denver.
All our beds are separated by permanent paths we trench, covered with weed mat and then mulched. The wood mulch recycles tree removal waste, assists in suppressing weeds, and maintains moisture in the adjacent beds. The beds are exactly 48 inches which allows for easy reach for a person from either side of path. We often use hand digging techniques that involves the loosening of and adding organic matter.
We plant the beds with cover crops in the fall such as winter wheat, clover, vetch and peas. These crops protect and enrich our soil, prevent soil erosion and water runoff and improve the soil structure.
Straw and mulch
This helps protect our soils, prevents moisture loss, suppresses weeds and composts into nutrients for our soil.
We companion plant for nutrient recycling such as beans and corn and weed suppression such as squash with beans and corn (the three sisters). Our three sisters beds are a favorite on tours and classes because it is an accessible way if understanding symbiotic relationships. It also allows a way to increase agricultural yields and forces us to constantly think about relationships between different plants.
We encourage growing diverse cultivars of plants and educating people on the different benefits. Instead of only growing orange carrots, we grow a rainbow of colors and cultivate over thirty varieties of tomatoes on our farms. We grow almost only heirloom varieties and focus on seed saving.