Sunday, May 27, 2018
News Roundup

A growing communal vibe: Tampa Heights Community Garden celebrates first birthday

TAMPA HEIGHTS

Many hands worked through the past year to transform a barren, nondescript rectangular plot just north of downtown into a lush, green oasis. Today at the Tampa Heights Community Garden, sweet potatoes burst from the earth near where pumpkin vines crawl from bushel baskets and purple eggplant globes hang heavily. Gardeners from all over Tampa gathered recently to celebrate the garden's first anniversary, taking pride in crops and more.

"We are not just growing vegetables," said Kitty Wallace, the garden coordinator. "The garden is growing community."

Kids dug into a dirt pile and played games while adults visited and enjoyed a picnic of chicken and fish.

• • •

Wedged up next to Interstate 275 at 605 E Frances Ave., the strip that holds the gardens is owned by the Florida Department of Transportation and managed by the city, which allows for the garden.

It was first envisioned 20 years ago by Tampa Heights residents who wanted to redefine the blighted neighborhood with green spaces for community gatherings.

The goal was to involve everyone in the neighborhood.

The urban pioneers, who gambled on the stately neighborhood founded in the 1880s, now weed plots alongside formerly homeless people living at nearby Metropolitan Ministries and A Safe Place.

Residents from these shelters harvested armloads of peppers, tomatoes and collard greens this year, Wallace said, not only gaining food but skills to improve self-sufficiency.

Teens from the Tampa Heights Junior Civic Association tended rose bushes in a butterfly garden.

Wounded veterans and their families living at Tampa Fisher House planted in two wheelchair-accessible raised-bed gardens.

• • •

The gardeners started planning in March 2010 and planting in July 2011. They bought lumber, irrigation supplies and seeds with donations of $1,000 from the Tampa Garden Club and $2,500 from Home Depot. They fenced an area 120 by 150 feet.

A soil test found high levels of arsenic, Wallace said, so gardeners opted to plant in raised beds and buy organic soil. Neighboring restaurants contribute to compost bins for future soil enrichment.

Now more than 100 gardeners have stakes in the garden.

Malina Spokas lives three streets away and comes a few times a week with her 6-year-old daughter, Ella, and 8-year-old son, Caden.

They bike along a newly opened section of the Green Artery, an asphalt trail dreamed up by fellow gardener Lena Young Green to one day connect the region with a circular network of trails for cyclists and pedestrians.

The open section, nearly a third of a mile, runs from Amelia Avenue to Seventh Avenue.

Spokas planted a variety of her favorite vegetables. As a new gardener, she learned what plants work together when her "tomatoes went wild."

• • •

Neighbors come for yoga classes and picnics under a large oak tree. Two smaller beds were set up recently for children, who will plant broccoli. The children decorated the beds with painted handprints.

The gardeners plan to put in nine more beds Saturday. Membership fees are $35 per year for a 4-by-8-foot bed or $25 to use a communal plot.

Diana Dionesotes-Phillips is planting now. This month, more vegetables can be planted than any other, said Bob Dickey, a master gardener who specializes in organic growing and advises the group.

In the past year, Dionesotes-Phillips harvested tomatoes, peppers, romaine, kale, broccoli rabe and carrots.

"You're amazed at how much you can grow in that little plot," she said.

Elisabeth Parker can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3431.

     
Comments
RFK’s son: There was 2nd shooter

RFK’s son: There was 2nd shooter

Los Angeles Times (TNS)As the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy approaches, conspiracy theories still abound.The latest to back the theory of a second gunman is the senator’s son Robert F. Kennedy Jr.Sirhan B. Sirhan, a ...
Updated: 15 minutes ago
Rays bats come alive with six-run rally to beat Orioles 8-3

Rays bats come alive with six-run rally to beat Orioles 8-3

ST. PETERSBURG — If you think the Rays are holding their pitching staff together with baling wire, duct tape and an overbooked shuttle to Triple-A Durham, a bigger story might be how their bats keep producing runs no matter who is swinging them...
Updated: 24 minutes ago
Visa woes have summer businesses hiring Puerto Ricans

Visa woes have summer businesses hiring Puerto Ricans

PHIPPSBURG, Maine — Frustrated by red tape and visa limits on foreign workers, tourism businesses from Maine to Missouri are turning to Puerto Ricans who are fleeing a shattered economy and devastation caused by Hurricane Maria. Bob Smith, owner of S...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Troopers looking for driver in New Port Richey fatal hit-and-run

Troopers looking for driver in New Port Richey fatal hit-and-run

NEW PORT RICHEYDriver surrenders after crash that kills bicyclistThe driver Florida Highway Patrol troopers say struck and killed a bicyclist then drove from the scene turned herself in Sunday afternoon.Shanna Marie Rampino surrendered a 2000 Toyota ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
A solemn display

A solemn display

Associated PressVisitors to Boston Commons in Boston last week pass 37,000 American flags planted to honor every Massachusetts resident killed in war dating to the Revolutionary War. The "flag garden" idea on Memorial Day started in Boston about a de...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Former President George H.W. Bush hospitalized in Maine

Former President George H.W. Bush hospitalized in Maine

BIDDEFORD, Maine — A spokesman for former President George H.W. Bush says the 93-year-old was experiencing low blood pressure and has been hospitalized. Spokesman Jim McGrath tweeted just after 2 p.m. Sunday that Bush will likely remain in the hospit...
Updated: 4 hours ago
None injured in Trinity rehab center fire

None injured in Trinity rehab center fire

TRINITY — No one was hurt Sunday morning after a fire broke out at a rehabilitation center.According to Pasco County Fire Rescue, Trinity Regional Rehab Center at 2144 Welbilt Blvd. is running on generator power after the blaze broke out about 10:30 ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Part of Tampa’s Bayshore Boulevard closed through at least 5 p.m.

Part of Tampa’s Bayshore Boulevard closed through at least 5 p.m.

Both southbound lanes of Bayshore Boulevard between W. Barcelona and W. Rubideaux streets are closed while the Tampa Water Department repairs a water main break.The repair and roadway restoration work is expected to be completed by 5 p.m. Sunday but ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Meteorologists are calling Alberto a ‘subtropical storm.’ What the heck is that?

Meteorologists are calling Alberto a ‘subtropical storm.’ What the heck is that?

We’re all waking up to the impacts of Alberto: dreary rain, gusty wind, the reluctant change of Memorial Day plans.But while the effects are routine for storm-weathering Floridians, the category of storm Alberto falls into is a little less familiar. ...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Temple Terrace applauds progress on downtown project

TEMPLE TERRACE — A round of applause from the audience followed the recent vote by the Temple Terrace City Council to negotiate a contract with a company that plans to build and manage luxury apartments in the long-idle downtown redevelopment area.Th...
Updated: 7 hours ago