For David and Linda, the community gardens around Metro Denver aren’t just a place for plants; they’re a place of healing. According to his doctors, David was given a 30% chance to live. And Linda grew up in a physically and mentally abusive home for the majority of her life.
Gardening may have started as just a hobby, but as time passed and their plants grew, they grew with them, healing over their past traumas.
Denver Urban Gardens provides over 181 community gardens throughout Metro Denver, offering neighborhoods with essential resources for community gardens and ongoing support.
Read David & Linda’s message in their own words
From David: I don’t remember much except a couple of flashes, and that’s it. All my life, I’ve been very healthy. I’ve been a ski instructor, I’ve lived in the mountains, climbed a lot of the 14ers, and I’ve always been very active. And then in 2012, just out of the blue, I got sick, and I didn’t know what it was. I thought it was a cold at first, or maybe the flu, just wouldn’t get any better. The last thing I remember is sitting on my couch, and I woke up six weeks later. I was on life support for about a week. The doctor gave me about a 30% chance to live. I have absolutely no idea where this came from or how it happened. My life has just changed dramatically.
From Linda: I grew up in a large family. I grew up with 14 other kids. Our father was a very hard person, very hard. I mean, if you said something wrong and you were right there, he’d just pull the stick out and started beating you. He was verbally, mentally, and sexually very abusive. The way it affected me was my self-esteem. When I was growing up, laughing, smiling, I would always cover my mouth, you know? I couldn’t sit here and look at you back then straight in your face. Mentally, I think, is the part that I had a little more trouble working out of. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen a cocoon but a beautiful butterfly emerges.
From David: But some things do much better in cooler temperatures. When I first moved here, I started walking around the neighborhood. I was still walking. I was walking pretty good at that point. And I came across this garden, and I called the number on the board there, and I was given the passcode to get in. We had just limited tools, a couple of rakes and a shovel. All kinda broken down, but I started cleaning up with what I had. It just, you know, it just felt good to be outside doing something positive.
I needed some time just for me. To get back to me again.
From Linda: You know, everybody has their safety net. Everybody wants a place to go where there’s absolutely nothing that can touch them.
“To me, walking into a garden is like walking through a portal. That’s mine, and there’s nobody that can take that, nobody.”
Having my hands in the soil, you know, just being around this, the soil tends to give me a sense of security, a sense of safety. It rejuvenates me. My own time out.
From David: I broke a sweat in this garden for the first time. I hadn’t sweat in probably three, four years since I got sick and it felt so good. I love being outside, I’ve always been an outside person. It’s just, so relaxing, so peaceful here.
“As the garden grew, I grew with it.”
I started feeling better all the time. I was getting stronger, healthier. This is my love, you know, it’s just, it’s wonderful.
From Linda: I heard somebody say one time – there are a lot of good stories out there, but only the good stories, they say, are worth printing. But everybody has a good story. Just cause they don’t get put in the history books doesn’t mean that they don’t have a good story.
The Garden has saved my life. I’ve said that several times and I say it all the time. I’m coming here, and I’m around people to help that healing. You never know what that other person’s been through or was going through. You don’t know.
From David: You know, it also brings faith back to me about how good people can be. There are some really good people around here. And it’s nice to see that.
From Linda: The connection that I feel to God, to me, is in the soil. I feel like God looked at me and said, “Okay, that baby’s gonna be a gardener.”
From David: Life can change in an instant. So, you have to learn how to deal with it and how to build yourself back up again a little bit. And I didn’t look into being a garden leader. I was just looking to grow a little bit, you know. And, I kinda had a vision. I got a vision of what I felt this garden should look like. And I’ve been working towards that since.
Read the Director Zack Littlefield’s Take on the Film
When I was a kid, I remember spending a lot of time in gardens. For many generations, on both sides of my family, it was just part of the way of life. To me, at the time, it just looked like a lot of work. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I began to understand the true benefits. I saw firsthand how working in the dirt kept my grandmother alive and healthy way into her 90s.
Gardening also played a key role in my mother’s rehabilitation after a bad fall left her with a broken arm and a broken hip. For several years, I lived less than a block from one of Denver Urban Gardens’ inner-city plots in the Whittier neighborhood. It became one of my favorite places to stop on daily walks with my dog, to peer through the fence at the plants and flowers, and watch neighbors talk while they surveyed the beauty of the work they had put in earlier in the season.
Something about that space made me feel a little bit of hope and happiness each time I passed by. When I learned about the potential opportunity to tell a story about the great work Denver Urban Gardens is doing in our communities, so many ideas began swirling around in my head.
“When I met Linda and David, it became clear what stories needed to be told. Much of their healing happened in the garden, and their personal stories of resilience landed on me right when I needed it.”
Getting to know David and Linda through this process was a real gift. The quiet drives to garden plots before sunrise, the buzzing of the bees, the stillness of these spaces in the middle of the bustling city were all experiences that watered my own roots.
Learn more about Denver Urban Gardens, volunteer, or donate: https://dug.org
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