Mayor urges creation of more community gardens

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email
Posted by Phil Riggan – email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones is going after blighted, vacant lots.

He's urging the creation of more community gardens in the city and he's even asking City Council to pass an ordinance offering neighborhoods and organizations, empty and under-used city property as garden space.

The community garden in the Chimborazo neighborhood opened a few years ago. And this is exactly what the mayor is hoping to bring to more areas of the city. His office has even identified 31 pieces of city-owned land that could be used for growing and planting.

"They make a healthier Richmond, all the way around," said Lisa Taranto. She helped bring seven community gardens and even farm to urban Richmond.

She's now expanding into a new office in Church Hill. She spent the last nine months helping the city craft a new ordinance to encourage more community gardens.

"I think it's really great to see the city getting on board and throwing in support," said Taranto.

Elaine Odell runs a photography business next to the Jefferson Avenue garden. She remembers what this lot was before it was filled with plants and vegetables. "It was horrible. I called it the construction debris/dump site," she said.

Roland Villars lives next to the Chimborazo garden and says, "It's quiet, it's productive. It's families. And then they have excellent camaraderie amongst themselves."

Under this ordinance neighborhoods that want to create a community garden on city-owned property like that piece of land would have to pay a $50 application fee and each year after a $25 renewal fee.

The fee would only be for the organization running the garden, though that group may charge for space. And, if this law is passed, organizations would also be required to leave 10 percent of the land for people who can't afford to pay for a plot.

"By having the community garden here, not only do neighbors come and visit, the site, but also people from outside the neighborhood come to see what's happening here," said Odell.

This proposal must get approval from City Council, specifically the list of city owned properties that could be used as community gardens.

5231 Kingsbury Road
606 Seneca Road
519 Libbie Avenue
6 Tuckahoe Blvd
5900 Fergusson Road
2000 W. Leigh Street
2932 Hawthorne Avenue
2930 Hawthorne Avenue
410 Pollock  Street
207 East Ladies Mile Road
241 East Ladies Mile Road
431 Hazelhurst Avenue
801 West 44th Street
805 West 44th Street
807 West 44th Street
3300 Mcdonough Street
712 West 26th Street
4050 Midlothian Turnpike
1600 Idelwood Avenue
2201 Parkwood Avenue
1301 Perry Street
3001 3rd Avenue
910 Goddin Street
1422 1/3 Garber Street
2700 Fairfield Avenue
1901 North 28th Street
2534 Nine Mile Road
1501 N 31st Street
3911 Stockton Street
4212 Ferguson Lane
404 East Broad Rock Road

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