More From a Fountain City Resident on City’s Proposed Community Garden Rules

Maybe you didn’t catch it in the post on the city’s public meeting on proposed community garden regulations that the office of sustainability is developing, but I put out a call for one meeting attendee to email me, since I didn’t get a chance to speak more with her after the meeting.

Carlene Malone is the “Fountain City resident,” and she was kind enough to email me about the points she hoped to convey to the city, especially in regard to Zach Smith’s desire to use his land to garden for himself. Her main problem with the presentation is that she was under the impression that people who garden for themselves would have to register their gardens as “community gardens” with the city (though office of sustainability project manager Jake Tisinger said there would be no registration fee).

“What that would do is bring Mr. Smith needlessly under a new set of city regs … So I don’t see how the community garden name helps Mr. Smith,” Malone writes in an email.

It was established at the meeting that folks like Smith will not be bothered if they grow produce on their land, and as Malone points out, landowners who don’t have a house on a piece of property can still get a permit to grow crops as a primary use of land.

The focus of the meeting, however, was specifically community gardens, such as the once-popular Parkridge Community Garden, where multiple people used the land to grow produce. The city largely avoided talking about personal gardens at the meeting.

But Malone is also concerned with prevent neighborhood eyesores if gardens get abandoned. And to prevent that, she says there needs to be a fee and permit attached to registering a community garden.

“If the ‘garden’ becomes an abandoned mess, I don’t want to call codes enforcement and be told some [version] of ‘…the garden is going to be re-established very soon.  We are giving them more time.  It is not really abandoned.  They plan to work on it.’  If there is an annual permit and fee, then the abandoned garden is no more at the end of that permitting period unless someone takes positive action and signs forms and writes a check.,” Malone says.

Abandoned gardens were pretty much dropped as a topic of discussion at the July 14 meeting after office of sustainability director Erin Gill shot down garden permit fees by saying property owners already pay property taxes. But after the meeting, Tisinger did say enforcement of codes violations specifically by community gardeners would be aided with the registration of those gardens.

Nothing further about the proposed regulations have come from the city since the meeting, and probably won’t for another couple of months. But stay tuned!

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