Article by OC Community Garden Advocate, Scott Griggs
In gardening and biology, hybridization is the crossbreeding of two species to create a plant with some characteristics of each parent. We all remember high school botany and the stories of the great Gregor Mendel using hybridization in pea plants to discover that one inheritable trait would invariably be dominant to its recessive alternative. Mendel’s work became the foundation for genetics.
Today, in the City Council Transportation and Environment Committee, City Staff will brief the Committee on the zoning options for a municipal community gardens program. Staff’s recommendation: a nod to the great Mendel and the use of a hybrid approach to community gardening that crosses gardening-by-right and strict Special Use Permits (SUPs).
Gardening-by-right means you have a right to community garden as long as you comply with zoning regulations and don’t create any code issues.
In the strict SUP model, you pay an $1170 non-refundable fee for a community garden, make your best case before City Council, and after a 6 month process, find out if your application is accepted or rejected. Be sure to plan to garden at least one full season in advance.
According to the briefing, the recommended hybrid approach is “unique and mostly consistent.” So what does this hybrid variety look like? It has an initial non-refundable $1170 SUP fee (lovingly called the “cost to garden”), reapplication fees, and strict regulation. It seems like the hybrid approach creates a unique variety of tomato: the grow-it-yourself $30/pound tomato. It’s definitely a rare variety born of crossing high fees and overregulation.
If Mendel was an urbanist, I don’t think he would be too proud. But he was a scientist and as a scientist, Mendel would conclude the strict SUP gene was dominant and completely masks it’s the recessive counterpart, the garden-by-right gene. So much for Staff’s experiment.
Thankfully, we don’t need Mendel to make good public policy. Let’s pick gardening-by-right and leave hybridization to the botanists.
Community Gardens of Oak Cliff President and BFOC member Mariana Griggs will be attending the meeting and keeping everyone posted. If you have the opportunity to show your support, the Committee meets today, Monday, March 8 from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm. Location: 6ES (City Hall – 1500 Marilla Street).
And please leave all rotten tomatoes at home.