Leaves raked in Southern Gables neighborhood to help family farm

Published on October 21, 2019

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UPDATE:  Because of the recent snowstorm, the Leaf Raking, Collection and Compost Day for the Southern Gables Neighborhood has been moved to Nov. 9.

When it comes to leaves, what falls in the Southern Gables neighborhood will stay in the neighborhood because of an added component to its fifth annual Leaf Raking, Collection and Compost Day on Nov. 2.

Leaves collected from the 1,013-home neighborhood will go to the Fleischer Family Farm, a 1.4 acre urban farm also in the neighborhood, to be used as an enriching soil amendment. The farm grows a host of produce that is sold through a community supported agriculture membership program and a weekly farm stand in the summer. It also offers a farm-to-table dinner and a variety of classes.

The leaf event was one of the first projects created by the Sustainable Southern Gables Neighborhood group in partnership with the Southern Gables Neighborhood Association five years ago. Inspired by concerned residents interested in reducing their environmental impact, the event diverted leaf-stuffed plastic garbage bags from ending up in the landfill. The event instead allowed residents to bring their leaves to roll-off dumpsters that were then delivered to Alpine Waste and Recycling for composting. Now, the leaves will stay in the neighborhood and be composted at the farm.

The event also has grown to include families volunteering from the Denver Christian School to rake leaves at homes of senior citizens or residents with disabilities. Since 2015, the amount of leaves collected for composting has more than doubled, with a total of 20 tons of leaves diverted from the landfill.

“This is a great event for our neighborhood. We are proud that we can help seniors rake their yards, that we can help reduce waste going to the landfill, and that we can bring together terrific partners in our neighborhood like Fleischer Family Farm, Westwoods Community Church, kids and families from Denver Christian School and Sustainable Southern Gables,” said Southern Gables Neighborhood Association President Doug Whitten.

The partnership with the farm occurred after neighborhood resident Dale Trone and farm owner Paul Fleischer chatted during a neighborhood event several weeks ago and realized the mutual benefit of bringing the leaves to the farm instead of sending them to the commercial composting facility.

Sustainable Neighborhoods Program

Lakewood’s Sustainable Neighborhoods Program assists neighborhoods in enhancing sustainability and reducing residents’ environmental footprint. Since 2013, neighborhoods participating in this program use guidance from city staff to organize workshops, projects and events addressing sustainability and livability. Neighborhoods earn credits for their efforts, and depending on the number of credits earned each year they can receive city designation as a Participating Sustainable Neighborhood or an Outstanding Sustainable Neighborhood. The program has now been duplicated in Denver and Fort Collins, creating the Sustainable Neighborhood Network.