Adam Brock, founder of the GrowHaus, on permaculture, food boxes and modern-day agriculture
This is part one of my interview with Adam Brock, founder of the GrowHaus; part two of my chat with Brock will run tomorrow.
Growing up, I couldn't have cared less about cooking food, much less growing food," says Adam Brock. "My parents definitely encouraged me to get into food -- we even had a huge garden in the back yard -- but I was like, whatever, who cares? I was more into stuff like making music, longboarding and design -- but not ecological design," he admits.
What a difference a decade makes.
Brock left his home town of Denver to attend college in New York, and that's where everything changed.
"I discovered ecological design at NYU, and it just clicked for me, so much so that I really started to question where my food was coming from and how the industrial food system works," explains Brock, adding that he realized the "system was broken, so it was important to look for alternatives that made us healthier and solved other problems, like climate change, biodiversity loss and providing jobs for inner-city people."
He returned to Denver after graduation, and in 2009 he and his best friend, Coby Gould, opened the GrowHaus, an indoor farm, market and classroom that provides food to the underserved Elyria-Swansea neighborhood in north Denver. "I was born and raised here in Denver, and my identity is completely wrapped up in being nourished by this city and giving back to it," he says, "and when I got back to Denver, I just went deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole."
The GrowHaus, a nonprofit that now employs three full-time employees and five part-time employees, also utilizes the skills of the community it serves, empowering residents by giving them leadership roles and volunteer opportunities -- a crucial component of the GrowHaus. "It's definitely been a long process, and it's taken a lot of time to build trust -- to prove to this neighborhood that we have their best interests in mind -- but by giving back to them, by taking the time to prove that we're really here to make this a healthier community both in terms of food and building jobs, we've had a lot of neighborhood advocates who have come on board to help us," Brock says. The GrowHaus offers everything from hands-on volunteer work and a "farmer-in-training" program to "seed-to-seed" summer leadership courses for teens who want to learn more about building -- and sustaining -- healthy communities.