The Gardening Historian

Barbara Masoner ensures we learn from the Victories of the past

Barbara Masoner is a Denver native. She’s Grow Local Colorado's co-director, but she’s also a historian, a writer, an environmentalist and a life-long cultivator of botany both edible and elegant. See, Barbara started rocking all things agricultural at only ten years-old in her local 4-H club, and she never stopped. Barbara doesn’t dabble though, and while she’s a hoot-and-a-half, she gardens with a very specific goal in mind. She wants to see Denver’s public spaces flourish with pluming herbs and climbing vegetables on the scale of our country’s World War II Victory Gardens. Barbara isn’t merely toying with the idea either. She's been guiding Grow Local Colorado's volunteers in planting gardens in Denver Parks, the Governor's Mansion, churches and health facilities for the past ten years.  With an army of 400 volunteers annually she is leading the charge for changing our community's perception of public land use, local community and healthy food for everyone. During WWII Denverites raised 40% of their own produce and Barbara is striving to reach that mark again.  

A local, backyard garden, can make all the difference. Imagine if every single family home had a garden. Imagine if every apartment building had a courtyard filled with vegetables. Imagine if making a salad was as simple as stepping out your back door, reaching toward the ground beneath your feet and drawing up an orange, pulpy carrot you seeded yourself.  And imagine if every harvest a portion was shared with a local food pantry or soup kitchen.  It's not at all outlandish when you think of it. Barbara Masoner aims to change the way we think about the food we eat. She wants to remind us that we're not beholden to grocers, or tied to the tasty chemical compounds that decorate our snack chips. We have a shared history of growing and harvesting food. The last time we did it en masse may have been by national decree, but it doesn't have to be the last. Let Barbara Masoner teach you the way. And even if you don't, she'll dig deep to grow Denver up strong.

Peas in a Pod (a shared story with Dana Miller)

Abbott and Costello. Venus and Serena. Peanut Butter and Jelly. Milk and Cookies. Simon and Garfunkel. Batman and Robin. When you think of famous duos, these names spring to mind. But imagine a world wherein the last two pairs mentioned above are inaccurate because there exists a duo in which there is no weak link, no lesser partner. Instead, we’d have Simon and Simon (both Paul Simon’s, though, not the 1980’s action television show), or Batman and Batman. Imagine that. Two Paul Simons. Two Batmans. Or is it Batmen? There would have been decades of songs as good as “A Hazy Shade of Winter” without a feuding Garfunkel. There could have been twice as much brooding, growling, Batmobile justice (and none of the whining) with a pair of Caped Crusaders. Well, fear not, because this world exists. Dana Miller and Barbara Masoner are a new kind of dynamic duo, but you won’t catch them caught up in a looping string of puns (though they do have exceptional comedic timing). No no, Dana and Barbara are Denver’s Terrific Twosome of urban gardening.

Together, Dana and Barbara lead the charge to use urban lands in Denver for more than just looking at. They hope to one day turn every empty dirt lot and each city park flowerbed into a place where food grows and flourishes, ready to go harvest-to-table for farmer’s market shoppers, foodies and Denver’s populations with the greatest need. It is their shared philosophy and their shared passion. They have an incredible love for their home city. You can see a twinkle in their eyes, and you can feel the warmth emanating from their hearts as they talk about Denver. And you can tell right away that neither of them is a Garfunkel, or an Oates, or a Robin because they have talent to spare.