“We don’t just grow vegetables in the garden, we grow people, we grow character, and we grow gardeners,” says Dan Kunz, irrigation manager of the Golden Community Garden.
Kunz may have gotten his green thumb from spending his childhood summers on his grandparents’ and uncle’s farms in Oklahoma. This Jefferson County Master Gardener moved to Golden in 1976 and later went on to become a Native Plant Master by studying plants in Jefferson County. Not only is he involved in the Community Garden but also leads wildflower hikes for the Colorado Mountain Club and is an interpretive guide on Mount Evans.
Photo of Dan Kunz at the Golden Community Garden
Located near the mouth of Clear Creek Canyon, the Golden Community Garden, started by Matt Burde and many volunteers, was designed by Susan Saarinen (daughter of the St. Lewis Gateway Arch’s architect, Eero Saarinen). “With nearly 100 gardens around the Denver Metro area,” say Kunz, “we’re one of the few automatic-timed irrigated gardens in the Denver Urban Garden network.”
There are 83 plots, two different orchards (pears, plums, and apples), bee hives and perennial beds. All of the gardening is organic. “It’s been a labor of love, a lot of work, but something I enjoy,” Kunz says.
In addition to maintaining the irrigation system, Kunz educates current and future gardeners. “I provide information to people who want to grow things, who want to learn about gardening, or have gardening problems—when you plant seeds, when you harvest, or when’s a good time to put your tomatoes in,” says Kunz. The Garden also provides produce to food banks in Golden and to a senior living facility.
Kunz’s favorite things to grow are tomatoes and hot peppers. That may have something to do with his love of spicy food. “I have four different kinds of hot peppers. I grow my peppers between my tomatoes so they grow up together. They’ll grow up together and they’ll taste good together,” he says.