Would you like your gardening efforts to contribute to important scientific research? If you live in Denver and are relatively new to gardening, CAPS needs you.
CAPS stands for the Community Activation for Prevention Study. The University of Colorado at Boulder and Denver Urban Gardens are working together on a randomized controlled study to discover how community gardening affects health. Other partners include Michigan State University, the University of South Carolina and Colorado State University.
The three-year study is funded by a grant from the American Cancer Society. Gardeners are now being recruited for the second wave of the study. When CAPS ends, more than 300 gardeners will contribute to the study and help researchers understand if and how gardening can prevent serious health issues, like cancer.
Study participants will be randomly selected for one of two groups: those who grow a garden in a DUG community garden and those who are on a DUG wait list (the control group). Researchers measure both groups and compare the results based on their diets, physical activity levels and other health indicators.
CAPS is looking for Denver-area folks who are over 18 and have an interest in gardening. The participants need to be new gardeners or gardeners who haven’t been actively gardening for the last two years. Study participants will be matched to a nearby DUG community garden and their garden plot fees are covered.
Experienced Denver-metro gardeners are encouraged to spread the word about CAPS to beginning or lapsed gardeners. Find out more about the study, the investigative team, and the study’s partners at the CAPS website or get in touch with Angel Villalobos, program coordinator, at 303-724-1235 or Angel@dug.org.
By Jodi Torpey
A Denver Master Gardener
Want to share your love for nature and plants with children this winter? Here are five activities to spark curiosity, teach and amuse.
Adopt an insect-eating plant. The Venus Flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) is fascinating to watch as it traps spiders and insects for its meals. This animation explains the process.
Start a worm farm. It’s a fun way to learn about the composting process and add to the garden later in the year. All that’s needed is a plastic lined or wood box with a lid, vegetable scraps, shredded newspaper and a few red wriggler worms. Kept moist and cool, the worms will get to work making valuable compost. Find full instructions here.
Plant a terrarium or fairy garden. Assemble a collection of small plants in an open-topped container or create an imaginative, kid-friendly scene with structures and characters – perhaps a park for superheroes or dinosaurs! Children love to play in the dirt, so this makes for great hands-on learning of planting basics. Stick to easy to grow, petite plants and add a bottom layer of pebbles if using containers without drainage holes.
Feed the birds. Gather some pine cones and tie a string to the top of each, slather with peanut butter, then roll in bird seed. Hang in a nearby tree and watch the feast begin.
Sprout an avocado pit. Stick the perimeter of an avocado seed with toothpicks and suspend it, rounded side down in a glass of water. Watch for roots followed by a green shoot. Avocado is a fast growing plant and will soon need to be transplanted into soil.
What nature activities do you do with children?
Images: Bing Images (Royalty Free)
Written by: Linda McDonnell, a Denver County Master Gardener