Tampa community garden remains just a concept
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12/11/08 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday | Listen to this entire show:

The idea of having the city of Tampa help in the creation of a community garden was again discussed at the Tampa Community Redevelopment Agency’s meeting Thursday morning.

In October, Tampa Councilwoman Mary Mulhern hosted a workshop on the issue. She mentioned how community gardens are sprouting across the country as a way to grow local food at affordable prices and said it was appropriate for Tampa to become part of the trend.

Mark Huey is the economic and urban development administrator with the city of Tampa. He said he had some research since the last time the CRA had discussed the issue. He said one possible impediment was access to water sources.

Councilwoman Mulhern said she wanted to reassure everyone that her objective in bringing up the idea of having community garden in the city was to be as a conduit, and not to be mandating that the city necessarily do anything on their own regarding the idea. She said she envisioned the garden taking up a few lots, not acres.

At a previous City Council meeting, Mulhern said underdeveloped East Tampa would be a natural place to create such organic gardens. But there have been questions about how much grass roots support for such an idea actually exists there. Mulhern said that was OK.

"There was the sense that I was trying to impose this on East Tampa," Mulhern said. "The reality is that I just want this to happen wherever. I want us to help get at least one going, in any way we can."

But as she has done in previous meetings, CRA Chair Gwen Miller, who previously represented East Tampa on the council but last year was elected city wide, said the community there has no desire for it. "People who want gardens are doing them in their backyard," she said.

Ed Johnson, the city’s East Tampa redevelopment manager, also admitted he had not heard of much interest in community gardens.

But Johnson said he wasn’t giving up on the concept and planned on organizing the East Tampa Community Advisory Council, as well as other neighborhood type associations, to gauge any such support. But that led to this crack from Councilwoman Miller: "Don't work too hard, because we don't want it."

Councilman Charlie Miranda said he is not opposed to the idea, but questioned whether the youth of today will have the patience to see such a project through. Miranda said he wants to see how much any such project would cost, and who in the city wants such a garden.

Mulhern says she thinks the project ultimately will be a positive thing for Tampa.

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Comments

Perception and potential

Maybe part of the perception of need or desire for a community garden in any neighborhood is based on how the idea was expressed or how the question was asked. Part of the concept of a community garden is to provide a venue for the community to gather, not just to provide an affordable resource. A community garden should be a place for people to share and learn skills, a place for children to learn responsibility, and a place of beauty and pride in a neighborhood. A community garden can be venue for extension education, teaching the community better ways to collect and use valuable resources such as water. A community garden can impact the perception of blight in a neighborhood by utilizing otherwise vacant city property. Why would we not want to at least try something that could draw a community together, improve a neighborhood, create and maintain green space, as well as possibly provide a food resource to a community?

Perception and potential

Maybe part of the perception of need or desire for a community garden in any neighborhood is based on how the idea was expressed or how the question was asked. Part of the concept of a community garden is to provide a venue for the community to gather, not just to provide an affordable resource. A community garden should be a place for people to share and learn skills, a place for children to learn responsibility, and a place of beauty and pride in a neighborhood. A community garden can be venue for extension education, teaching the community better ways to collect and use valuable resources such as water. A community garden can impact the perception of blight in a neighborhood by utilizing otherwise vacant city property. Why would we not want to at least try something that could draw a community together, improve a neighborhood, create and maintain green space, as well as possibly provide a food resource to a community?