Community Garden’s by Right…just don’t plan on actually gardening, you won’t have time!

Firstly, I hope that you are enjoying the wonderful weather this weekend. I have been working hard at planting lots of crops and the rain last night will surely help us all out. I am emailing you in hopes that you can join me for the next community gardens briefing in 6ESouth at city hall tomorrow from 2-4. Staff will be recommending “Option 4: Community Gardens by Right with Neighbor Input”.

Next, I would like to inform you of the possible setbacks to community gardens that this option will create. Obviously the members of city staff who have recommended this option have never tried to start a community garden themselves. Photos in the presentation were taken from internet sites such as TLC (Discovery, The Learning Channel). While I have learned a lot from the internet, about community gardens, I have learned more from all of you, and from myself too. Some examples include: 1. Gardeners are busy people and do not have time for lots and lots of meetings, 2. Following through on ANY task that involves paperwork, forms, proofing and such easily falls by the wayside for busy people who are consistently bombarded by emails. 3. We make vacant lots look better without being forced to do so by city ordinance, without having to fill out copious amounts of forms, without being threatened with code compliance officers, and without certificates of occupancy. When the neighbors come to our community gardens they usually want to join and we don’t turn anyone away.

This recommended option will change the way we have created community gardens so far. First, there will be lots of meetings, with neighbors and interested parties (you know no one will be able to meet at the same time). Then there will be required signatures from everyone that lives within 200 ft. of any proposed garden (I want to know if this includes other vacant lots, homes under foreclosure and homes for sale). The next phase will be to create a site plan (if its winter, you’ll just have to say that you will garden in the area that suspiciously looks like poison ivy even if you won’t know that it is until the spring) and finally to apply for a permit (how long this process will take has not been hypothesized). If you could not find those neighbors from 200 ft away, the city will hold a public hearing at the expense of $500 (maybe, it could be less, they don’t know yet). In the end, the proposed community garden can have 400 sq. ft of structural space (in the rear only and I won’t even get started talking about the need for a pavilion to collect rain water and host gatherings), no animals grazing or produced (forget about anyone’s goat grazing on that poison ivy so that you can follow through with the proposed site plan, and forget too about those chickens you were thinking about. Seeing as how bees are animals too, they really aren’t allowed either), and no selling of harvested produce (though I am hoping that bartering does not count here).
Its true, we are on the cutting edge of a food revolution and there will always be attempts to stifle those who work hard to move our society forward, but I also know you would not garden if you did not believe that as a community we should fight for the right to grow food wherever we can. I am calling on your fighting spirit to overcome this recommendation. The members of the TEC committee are listed here so that you may contact them (even one email will help, and yours is important) and tell them you don’t want more meetings, more unnecessary fund raising (to cover added permit costs) and more bureaucracy all in the name of growing your own food. Please let them know what your experience tells you: Community Gardens can regulate themselves.

City of Dallas, Transportation & Environment Committee
Linda Koop 214-670-7817,
Vice Chair
Sheffie Kadane 214.670.4069
Jerry R. Allen 214-670-4068,
Tennell Atkins (214) 670-4066,
Carolyn R. Davis 214-670-4689,
Vonciel Jones Hill 214-670-0777,
Angela Hunt (214) 670-5415,
Delia Jasso   214-670-4052,
Pauline Medrano, Deputy Mayor Pro Tem 214-670-4048,
Ron Natinsky, 214-670-406,

Thanks, and hope to see you tomorrow,


2 responses to this post.

  1. Hi! I recently did some research about city policies for community gardens, and I have a few questions/comments:
    Will the city provide the addresses of the properties within 200 feet? That is something that can be done in 5 minutes with GIS, something they definitely (should) have at their disposal, but gardening groups won’t. That way groups can be sure they’ve hit all the right properties.

    Can the city show examples of requirements like this being successful? Cities are always benchmarking other cities to decide on their own regulations – does this system work in other cities? What cities are they referencing? Have they talked with the staff or gardeners there?

    The American Planning Association has a Policy Guide on Community and Regional Food Planning, available here:
    Notably, see General Policy #2:
    “The American Planning Association, its Chapters and Divisions, and planners support strengthening the local and regional economy by promoting community and regional food systems.”
    and General Policy #3:
    “The American Planning Association, its Chapters and Divisions, and planners support food systems that improve the health of the region’s residents.”

    This paper reports on other cities’ policies and has a model zoning ordinance at the end:

    There is also a “Zoning for Urban Agriculture” article in the March issue of Zoning Practice (published by APA) you could encourage them to check out (I have a copy I could send you if you’re interested).

    Also, Dallas has a quality of life committee? Does this not fall under their jurisdiction?
    Good luck, and hope things go well at the meeting!


  2. Posted by John on August 8, 2010 at 4:19 am

    Possibly a random way to go about this, but I just realized that this whole thing sound interesting. Can anyone maybe fill me in? I’m bored, I might as well grow some tomatoes or something hey?


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