Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Mayor's Community Garden Program Approved by City Council

Mayor Dwight C. Jones’ proposed ordinance of offering City property to non-profit organizations, civic associations, community groups, and other eligible entities to be developed into community gardens was unanimously approved by Richmond City Council last night. The new ordinance requires the creation of a permit process to enable certain parcels of City-owned real estate to be used for community gardens.

“This program allows the City to offer its residents something with immeasurable value – the opportunity to grow healthy food in their own neighborhoods,” said Mayor Jones. “This in turn creates a cycle of healthy behavior throughout the community. Neighbors will not only become healthier through the foods they eat, they will also get to know each other, strengthening community ties. Children will get to see where food comes from and be more excited about eating a healthy diet. Residents will take back vacant lots from possible criminal behavior and businesses will want to locate to these vibrant, safe, healthy neighborhoods.”

The City’s community garden program, Richmond Grows Gardens, will be administrated by a Community Garden Coordinator and all participants will be required to follow program rules and guidelines. There will also be a Community Garden Committee comprised of city personnel to develop and recommend policies and standards for community gardens.

Interested groups may apply for a community garden online by visiting www.richmondgov.com/CommunityGarden. The City will charge each organization that applies a $50 initial fee and a $25 annual fee per parcel to off-set the costs to process the application and issue the permit.

This new program will help the city decrease its operation and maintenance costs. Community gardens also provide environmental benefits to include the management of storm-water runoff by capturing and filtering water in the urban environment.

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