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Food Forestry
Training Program

Applications for the 2024 program have closed.

Applications for 2025 will open in January 2025


Denver Urban Gardens’ Food Forestry Training Program is a 15-session, hands-on and classroom-based, training course in designing, planting, and maintaining edible forest gardens in the urban setting.

The program coursework involves extensive education on species selection, soil amendment, planting, pruning, disease and pest management, and many more strategies for establishing thriving perennial edible crops in a dry climate. With a focus on practical skill-building, most sessions will be at existing DUG Food Forest locations, participating directly in the program.

Participants will get the training and experience necessary to embark on a variety of post-program pathways, including potential paid opportunities through DUG and starting small businesses in tree and land care.

The integration with existing food forest sites will allow graduates to take a leadership role within the program, or even be hired as paid site stewards for DUG community partners. There is a growing need for skilled care of trees and perennials around the Denver Metro area, and this course aims to fill that gap and to build a corps of people to address a wide range of needs in the area of green livelihoods.

On-site work will vary across locations within the DUG food forest network, with other classes being held at Denver Urban Gardens’ headquarters at The Horse Barn, located at 1031 33rd Street in the Posner Center for International Development in Denver.

The cost for participation in the Food Forestry program is $150.00. If cost is a barrier for you, please let us know what you can afford to pay.

Required 2024 Training Dates

1 Monday 2/26/2024 4:30-7:30 pm Posner Center
2 Monday 3/4/2024 4:30-7:30 pm DUG Food Forest Site
3 Monday 3/11/2024 4:30-7:30 pm DUG Food Forest Site
4 Monday 3/18/2024 4:30-7:30 pm Local Non-DUG Orchard
5 Monday 4/1/2024 4:30-7:30 pm DUG Food Forest Site
6 Monday 4/15/2024 4:30-7:30 pm Half Moon Farm
7 Monday 4/29/2024 4:30-7:30 pm DUG Food Forest Site
8 Monday 5/13/2024 4:30-7:30 pm Half Moon Farm
9 Monday 6/3/2024 4:30-7:30 pm DUG Food Forest Site
10 Monday 7/8/2024 4:30-7:30 pm DUG Food Forest Site
11 Monday 8/12/2024 4:30-7:30 pm Local Non-DUG Orchard
12 Monday 9/16/2024 4:30-7:30 pm DUG Food Forest Site
13 Saturday 9/28/2024 9:00 am -1:00 pm DUG Food Forest Site
14 Saturday 10/12/2024 9:00 am-1:00 pm DUG Food Forest Site
15 Monday 10/21/2024 6:00-8:00 pm Posner Center (Graduation)


The objective of the program is to empower individuals with the knowledge, skills, and practical experience needed to design, implement, and sustain thriving food forests in Colorado. Through a comprehensive curriculum and hands-on experience, participants will gain expertise in fruit tree and fruiting perennial care, ecological site assessment, plant selection, and dryland planting techniques. Our aim is to foster a new generation of urban land stewards capable of creating resilient and sustainable food ecosystems, contributing to local food security, and enhancing the overall well-being of our communities.

Core Educational Outcomes

  • Basic operational knowledge for pruning young and mature fruit trees
  • Be able to identify major fruit and nut trees, as well as a variety of edible bushes and shrubs
  • Best practices for planting trees, shrubs, and herbaceous perennials
  • Understand how to select planting sites and how to shape landform to direct and hold water
  • Become familiar with a variety of techniques for soil stabilization and improvement
  • Know how to pot up bare root trees and run a simple perennial nursery
  • Become familiar with the full set of necessary tools and how to care for them

Additional Educational Outcomes

  • Grafting and propagation expertise
  • Comfort with compost tea and holistic spray applications
  • Learn best practices for site design
  • Comfort and expertise with pruning across a wide variety of plants
  • Trellis design and construction

Topics Covered


tree identification

tree health diagnosis

weed management

site selection

land preparation

elements of a space (topography, water movement, shade)



companion planting


pest/disease management

soil amendments


tree structure/straightening

dryland planting techniques

passive landscape water catchment

tool orientation and care

potting bare root plants


bare root storage

bare root planting

potted plant planting


air pruning

Course Schedule

Week 1: Climate, Context, Vocabulary, Introductions

  • Orientation and cohort introductions
  • What is a food forest?
  • Climate/Hardiness Zones/Urban Context
  • Plant Selection, Native vs. Adapted
  • Goal Setting

Week 2: Pruning Introduction

  • Tree pruning and maintenance
  • Tool orientation/care/hygiene
  • Tree structure

Week 3: Pruning Continued

  • Trees of different ages
  • Coppicing
  • Scion wood saving
  • Plant identification (dormant season)
  • Pruning practice

Week 4: Tree Health and Remediation

  • Mulching and fertilizing
  • De-winterizing
  • Pollenation
  • Disease

Week 5: Site Preparation

  • Land preparation
  • Amendments and soil
  • Dryland planting techniques
  • Passive landscape water catchment
  • Mulching

Week 6: Grafting

  • Bench grafting
  • Hand and tool grafting
  • Young tree care and labeling

Week 7: Planting Techniques and Watering Methods

  • Inoculant
  • Bare root management
  • Deep watering
  • Guilds and companion plants

Week 8: Nursery Care

  • Bare root storing/potting
  • Materials selection and pros/cons
  • Nursery care

Week 9: Vegetation Management and Early Season Maintenance

  • Weed management
  • Propagation
  • Pest & disease management
  • Fruit Thinning

Week 10: Guest Speaker

Based on availability and may vary

Week 11: Topping Trees

  • Summer Pruning
  • Weed management
  • Harvest

Week 13: Expansion Project

  • Practice in all previous implementation techniques
  • Capstone day

Week 12: Expansion Project Prep

  • Tree health diagnostic
  • Fall planting
  • Transplanting
  • Mushroom inoculation

Week 14: Winter Preparation

  • Harvesting
  • Preserving
  • Over-winter storing of potted trees
  • Winter tree care
  • Water tanks
  • Fertilizing

Week 15: Graduation Ceremony

Group celebration