Dig-In Review, Community Gardens Not Allowed

The Dig-In workshop conducted by the Advocates for Health in Action was a lot of fun and informative. The opening session was given by Advocates for Health in Action, explaining why they wanted to inform Raleigh on community gardens. During the presentation, one of the most interesting items was one that I have seen before in other presentations about health. It shows the percentage of obese adults in the United States from the 1980s until now.

North Carolina and the Southern states remain among the highest in obesity rates in the country, but the others are not far behind us. Though the reasons for this vary, lack of activity and a change in diet to include more convenience foods are a few of the suspects that community gardens can aid in changing. Access to fresh vegetables that are inexpensive can help all of us eat more green! And as a bonus, gardening is exercise. A group I volunteer with is sponsoring a NC Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights, and we hope to see kids all over North Carolina outside gardening with their parents. I think our Lineberry Alliance community garden is worth pursuing. So, why don’t we get started?

There were many different local groups there with information at the booths providing information. The community groups providing information included:

Patricia Brenzy sent out an email to our list-serve with our most relevant discovery from the workshop: The most important thing that we learned is that currently “Community Gardening” is not mentioned in the local zoning code. Gardening is only allowed as an accessory use on residential property (meaning it is an accessory to a residence on that property, not the primary use of the property) and on property zoned as “Agriculturally Productive Land.” However, Community Gardens came up as an issue to the City Council about 6 months ago and the city is looking into how to incorporate Community Gardening in the 2030 comprehensive plan.

So, what does this mean for the potential to have a community garden somewhere along Lineberry Drive? Chances are pretty slim for this year. The land owned by the City of Raleigh is not an option. Other groups currently gardening as a community that presented at the workshop were associated with churches, businesses, or simply on someone’s residential property. I attended the session on Neighborhood Gardens with Ariel Fisher, who manages a community garden located in Southeast Raleigh. Their community garden is located on church property. She discussed grant funding, soil testing, and how their group is organized into family plots as well as a community shared plot which they use to give to less fortunate neighbors or food banks. She suggested having 3 committed people to get a community garden going. Issues that she presented which need to be dealt with for us along Lineberry are location of water, location of tools (they have a tool shed on site), and securing against intruders, both the furry kind and the human kind. Brainstorming how we feel about these issues as well as where we can find land is an important first step in getting our Lineberry Alliance community garden started. More on action steps to come as we continue to get organized around this opportunity.

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One Response to “Dig-In Review, Community Gardens Not Allowed”

  1. Hey Shelby!

    You definitely don’t have to wait for the city to get its ducks in a row before creating a community garden. We just started one this spring in partnership with the YMCA on Hillsborough St. Based on our experience thus far, there are definitely some challenging aspects, and there are lots of opportunities for the city to fill gaps, especially with regard to the twin gargantuan issues of land acquisition and water access. But it can be done!

    We should bring this issue up at the next DDNA meeting–the city is discussing it, but from what I’ve heard they’re not discussing it in a serious enough way.