Visitors and dignitaries check out the raised beds at the Blue Bear Farm next to the Colorado Convention Center on Tuesday.
Visitors and dignitaries check out the raised beds at the Blue Bear Farm next to the Colorado Convention Center on Tuesday. (Kathryn Scott Osler, The Denver Post)

Just around the corner from Denver's iconic big, blue bear, greens are being picked for the Colorado Convention Center's next big event.

A 5,000-square-foot farm has been constructed next to the convention center that will provide a variety of fresh produce to the center's catering company, Centerplate, and mobile food truck.

The Blue Bear Farm includes two beehives to pollinate such produce as basil, cabbage, peppers and squash growing in raised beds.

The farm is expected to produce 1,800 pounds of produce in the first season and as much as 5,000 pounds by the fourth or fifth growing years.

Planning of the garden began almost two years ago and is part of Denver Mayor Michael Hancock's Denver Seeds initiative, which promotes urban gardens and local farming operations around the city.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock gets a tour of the garden from Luba Gruber from Produce Denver, the company that planted more than 2,000 plants in the space.
Denver Mayor Michael Hancock gets a tour of the garden from Luba Gruber from Produce Denver, the company that planted more than 2,000 plants in the space. (Kathryn Scott Osler, The Denver Post)

"The Blue Bear Farm is a perfect example of how the Denver Seeds initiative is building a fresh-food economy that will create jobs from plant to plate," Hancock told attendees at the ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday. "This project has already created jobs helping the Denver metro area community and our economy grow."

Hancock said he hopes the program can help direct 10 percent of the $6 billion that Denver residents spend on groceries each year to local urban farms.

Asked whether some might see the use of urban land for gardens as less necessary than open park space or development, Hancock said he sees the farm as an economic investment.

"We're always going to be looking to produce great open spaces in Denver, we value them," Hancock said. "But that doesn't mean we can't find space to create economic opportunity for people and create an economic opportunity for the entire city."

Produce Denver designed and built the farm and will manage the crops, said Centerplate vice president Laurence Rua . They will host educational events for the community.

"We're planning on organizing free classes where people will come and they can offer a donation to the farm or come for free and Produce Denver will show them how to garden at home," Rua said.

Centerplate executive chef Carmen Callo said the farm can serve as a model for other convention centers around the U.S.

Sarah Simmons: 303-954-1210, ssimmons@denverpost.com or twitter.com/ssimmons0709