4751 York Street
Sat and Sun 10AM–4PM
The 20,000 square foot GrowHaus is currently an interactive urban farm facility and market in the Elyria-Swansea neighborhood of north Denver. The original structure has undergone many renovations in order to to meet the needs of the GrowHaus and the current owners, and to preserve the history and aesthetic integrity of the facility. The basic material of the structure is the original corrugated tin, supplemented by corrugated plastic, which was added on parts of the roof to let in more light. Reclaimed and environmentally friendly materials have been used to update the facility.
GrowHaus currently contains multiple farm-related divisions including a 5,000 square-foot hydroponic farm, a 3,200 square-foot aquaponic farm for growing leafy greens and fish for distribution to local restaurants and markets as well as for the community residents, a 500 square-foot commercial mushroom farm and lab, a 250 square-foot indoor cooler, a 1,000 square-foot market, a 500 square-foot food preparation space, a 500 square-foot Conex cooler, a 500 square-foot classroom, a 5,000 square-foot Growasis with a living classroom, a teaching kitchen including a variety of energy and water-saving features, a 4,000 square-foot office and storage area, and 500 square feet of kitchen and bathrooms. The footprint is almost entirely original to the facility except for the addition of the 500 square-foot Conex cooler, which was added via an external shipping container.
In 2016, GrowHaus served over 5,200 neighborhood shoppers fresh food. Their educational programs provided 2500 students hands-on learning. The no-cost food pantry and cooking class, Cosechando Salud (Harvesting Health), served 2,600 people, and the hydroponic and aquaponic farms produced 50,000 heads of leafy greens for the neighborhood.
This facility was originally constructed and operated as a wholesale flower cutting and sorting facility for Lehrers Flowers. The Denver Carnation was uniquely well suited for growing in the Denver climate, and was the primary flower sorted in this facility. Lehrers eventually moved its wholesale facility to 2100 West Mississippi and with the Association of Wholesale Florists was acquired by the McCarthy Group around 2010. This building sat abandoned for an unknown period, before it was purchased by GrowHaus. When it was acquired by GrowHaus, the building was in a structurally deteriorating condition, filled with a plethora of overgrown weeds and plants.
The facility was purchased by developer Paul Tamburello in April, 2009, when it became the GrowHaus, an interactive urban farm facility and market serving the residents of Elyria-Swansea neighborhood. Today the building is owned by The GrowHaus and is a federally registered 501(c)3 nonprofit.
The mission of the GrowHaus is to create a community-driven neighborhood-based food system by serving as a hub for urban agriculture, education, business developments, and job training. GrowHaus strives to be a resident-driven organization, with community members engaged at all levels of the nonprofit organization. It provides access to healthy, affordable food; education around gardening, cooking, nutrition and fitness; and economic opportunity through micro-enterprise programs.
The GrowHaus provides three primary programs—Food Production, Food Education, and Food Distribution. The Food Production program uses recirculating aquaponic and hydroponic technology to achieve a yield of 1,500 plants each week. This yield is distributed to community residents and sold commercially to grocery stores and restaurants. The Food Education program includes workshops around healthy food for a variety of audiences. The food Distribution program provides affordable, fresh food to the community through a pay-what-you-can market, weekly food box program, and a free grocery distribution program.
There are no recorded architects.
Elyria-Swansea neighborhood originated as two neighboring independent communities. Welsh immigrants originally settled Swansea in the 1870’s, while Elyria was platted in 1881 and incorporated in 1890. Both were annexed by Denver in 1902. The original town of Elyria was located west of York Street, and Swansea was east of York Street. Today Elyria-Swansea has approximately 7,000 residents.
With the arrival of the railroads in the 1870s, this area north of Denver became home to smelters, packing plants, and other industries. The workers of these industries needed places to live and land was available in Elyria, Globeville, and Swansea. The area known as Elyria took its name from Elyria, Ohio, in honor of one of the founders, Colonel A.C. Fisk. Eastern European and Slavic immigrants were the ethnicities of the original settlers. Today, 84% of the residents of Elyria-Swansea are Hispanic, most hailing from Mexico.
Elyria and Swansea are referred to as separate neighborhoods, even though they share the same library, schools, recreational facilities, churches, and other important spaces. The neighborhoods remain physically isolated from Denver due to train tracks, large industrial sites, and the South Platte River. Small sections of well-¬maintained, single¬ family homes are interspersed in larger areas of commercial and industrial development. Five hundred of Elyria-Swansea’s 1600 acres is zoned for industrial use. It is also home to the National Western Complex, Cudahy Meatpacking, and Denver Pepsi-Cola Bottlers. The area retains its working class identity, which was established in its early roots.
In 1964, Interstate-70 bisected Elyria and Swansea, with the construction of elevated highway placed directly through the economic hub of the area, shuttering many of the resident-owned small businesses. The area has never regained it vibrancy. Today the Elyria-Swansea neighborhood lacks facilities to meet daily needs, and residents travel outside Elyria-Swansea to find banks, pharmacies, child-care, and healthcare. The GrowHaus is currently working with the local community to assist in meeting the healthy food and nutrition needs of the community.
Elyria: Denver’s Forgotten Suburb 1881-1941, Macmillan, Elizabeth, 2004; Elyria Swansea Neighborhood, Discover Denver Survey, Historic Denver; Food Access in Elyria-Swansea: A Review, Madsen and Williams, University of Colorado School of Medicine, 2014; Loftin, M. (2017, January 4). Personal Interview; www.TheGrowHaus.org.