Seminole Heights plants seeds for community garden

02/05/09 March Anderson
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Last night a workshop was held on establishing a Community Garden in Tampa’s Seminole Heights district. About 50 people attended the meeting organized by local resident Robin Miocowitz. This follows City Council discussions on the topic in December, where demand for such initiatives was doubted by several Council members.

There was a high level of support and enthusiasm from local residents for creating a Seminole Heights Community Garden. Representatives from more established local gardens were also on hand to offer guidance, as was Tampa City Councilwoman Mary Mulhearn, who has been a vocal advocate for several months.

A Community Garden is created when local residents organize to share land, labor and the costs of the garden in return for their share of the garden harvest.

A committee of seven volunteers was established to drive the garden creation. Some of the main issues to be resolved in establishing a garden for Seminole Heights are:

How to manage and operate the communal portion of the garden
The availability, location, and quality of land 
How to fund the garden from usage fees and potential grants

Based on the group’s enthusiasm, it seems clear that there is significant community support for the creation of a Seminole Heights garden.

Rick Martinez, founder of the Sweetwater Organic Community Farm, which has more than 300 active members, offered his assessment.

Community Gardening has been under discussion in Tampa for several months. Mulhearn held a workshop in October, and the topic was discussed at the Dec. 11 Community Redevelopment Agency meeting. There, the demand for a garden in East Tampa was disputed. Chair Gwen Miller said, “People who want gardens are doing them in their backyard.”

Mulhearn has a very different perspective.

Martinez noted that there is grassroots support from some Council members.

The Seminole Heights group will be speaking at a future Tampa City Council meeting to solicit city support.

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