The Greenhouse at Dahlia Campus: Providing Food Boxes in a Food Desert

Contributed by Lauren Anderson, Development Officer of Philanthropy

Before the Mental Health Center of Denver’s Dahlia Campus for Health & Well-Being opened in January of 2016, access to affordable and healthy food in the Northeast Park Hill neighborhood was scarce. That area was classified as a food desert, or severely lacking in fresh produce. Staff at the Mental Health Center of Denver came up with a solution: weekly food boxes in Denver sourced from the greenhouse at Dahlia Campus.

Seeking to create change, Dahlia Campus opened a greenhouse that grows fresh salad and cooking greens year-round. During the farmers market season (June through October), Sprout City Farms also provides seasonal vegetables.

Through Colorado Aquaponics, this greenhouse employs a natural, closed-loop fertilization system between fish and plants, so water isn’t wasted and plants are fertilized without harmful chemicals.

Now, the greenhouse provides a local source of nutritious fresh greens, herbs and protein.

Click here to watch the video on Dahlia Campus Farms and Gardens.

Subscribe for Weekly Food Boxes in Denver

The Mental Health Center of Denver has set up a weekly food box program so all community members have access to the produce grown at Dahlia Campus.

Community members can sign up for the program and receive a box of salad greens each week.

“It’s a way that we’re making money to support our programs that provide healthy food to people who currently don’t have access to it,” said Jenna Smith, aquaponic farm manager.

Food boxes contain different types of lettuce, cooking greens and culinary herbs grown in the aquaponic greenhouse. During the farmers market season, additional vegetables from Sprout City Farm’s soil farm on campus can be added to your salad box. In the future, Dahlia Campus Farms and Gardens partners hope to work with other local suppliers to add more items such as eggs, milk, honey and meat.

photo of leafy greens growing inside Dahlia Campus greenhouse for food boxes in denver
Inside the greenhouse at Dahlia Campus

Click here to sign up, or purchase a box at our weekly Farmers Market at Dahlia Campus every Wednesday from 4 pm until sunset. You can also purchase a $10 food box to donate to a family in need in the Northeast Park Hill neighborhood.

There are five boxes to choose from:

  • Salad Box
    • Basic size (feeds 1-2 people): $10
    • Family size (feeds 3-4 people): $20
  • Cooking Greens Box
    • Basic size (feeds 1-2 people): $10
    • Family size (feeds 3-4 people): $20
  • Collards Lover Box
    • Five pounds of collard and a head of lettuce: $10

For more information, contact greenhouse@mhcd.org.

Restaurants Sourcing from the Greenhouse at Dahlia Campus

Whether you’ve lived in Colorado for your entire life or you just moved, you know Colorado loves local. We source local, we eat local, we drink local and we partner local. Dahlia Campus joined the movement by partnering with nearly 40 restaurants and markets in our community.

Partners such as the Denver Zoo, Blue Moon, Linger and Vesta buy greens from our greenhouse, ensuring that we all have the choice to eat local and support Dahlia Campus together*.

Take some time this summer to visit Dahlia Campus and the Farmers Market. By supporting the greenhouse, you move us one step closer to full bellies and freshness for all.

happy child eats salad from a plate
Greens are great! Food boxes in Denver provide fresh salad greens weekly.

*The greenhouse at Dahlia Campus partners with the GrowHaus for restaurant and retail distribution.