Green Florida meets to discuss Tampa community garden ordinance
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08/05/10 Kelly Benjamin
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday | Listen to this entire show:

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The City of Tampa is considering a Community Garden Ordinance. Last night about a dozen people discussed the urban gardens and the city’s proposal at the Bamboozle Cafe in downtown Tampa.

Green Florida is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a network of community gardens in the state of Florida. Andrea Hildebran:

"Community Gardens improve people's health, give people enjoyable outdoor exercise, it produces food, it gives people a way to get healthy food for very little and sometimes no money. So it's a win, win, win. Community Gardens in many studies have been known to increase property values in neighborhoods in which they are located and stabilize residency in areas that have declining residency, there are many studies about them reducing crime and there are health benefits beyond the vegetables that you can eat."

The Tampa City Council's proposed Community Garden ordinance has been met with skepticism by some in the community including John Sterns, a South Tampa Urban farmer and community garden advocate:

"if the intent is to support and encourage community gardening I think it's a good thing but the proposed $1500 permit fee is ill-advised and counters the whole spirit of the community project to begin with."

Tampa's draft of a Community Garden Ordinance is somewhat different than the one St. Petersburg passed last year which allows community gardens in residential neighborhoods with no restrictions on size. Again, Green Florida's Andrea Hildebran:

"There are a lot of differences. There's a permitting fee that is much higher and a number of ways that the draft language has restrictions..."

The City of Tampa is set to hear the ordinance on Community Gardens August 12th, but City Council member Mary Mulhern, a strong garden supporter, has asked the Council to postpone the hearing until after a workshop on community gardens can be set up on October 14th.

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