Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Garden replaces eyesore in Bartlett Park

ST. PETERSBURG — A large wooden post in the middle of the garden includes the sign: "The Plot Thickens."

Andrea Hildebran has spent the past year promoting a local garden in Bartlett Park accessible to neighborhood residents. The idea originated as a way to bring the neighborhood together and spruce up an eyesore.

Now, with more than 24 plots and an expansion in the works, Hildebran is hoping it will change the way the community views itself.

Hildebran, 39, is president of Green Florida, a group that aims to create community gardens throughout the state. On Saturday, the group will commemorate one year since opening its first garden.

Membership in the garden is $25 per year for a 50-square-foot plot. For a little sweat equity, gardeners can receive a big return on their investment via their grocery bill. "That's always helpful in a recession," Hildebran said.

Hildebran selected the lot off Newton Road, which was previously vacant. The group rents the 10,500-square-foot lot for $100 per month with an option to buy from owner Mark Mobley, a Tampa developer.

The program is modeled after several community gardens that have been long popular in places like Cincinnati. The program there, established in 1981, now has more than 42 neighborhood gardens.

"It puts people together to work on positive projects," said Peter Huttinger, administrator of the program. "In addition to providing healthy food, it also provides a central point to get together to know each other."

The lot in Bartlett Park has come a long way from its origins.

It took a huge cleanup effort to make sure the land was suited for yielding produce. Volunteers dug for hours each week to remove shards of glass, cigarette butts and other trash.

"It had been a site where people hung around drinking all day," Hildebran said. "There were broken plastic chairs under the big tree. It was a regular hangout. Police had to get called on that spot regularly, a lot of times the grass was very high and the trees were in terrible shape."

Now, in that same place, rows of collard greens, kale, grape tomatoes, eggplant and spices are growing. Gardeners installed an environmentally friendly drip-irrigation system from a well they built to conserve resources. The group has received a grant of more than $3,000 from the Southwest Florida Water Management District to help educate the public about the system.

Betty Hayes, president of the Bartlett Park Neighborhood Association, has been able to grow turnips, string beans and tomatoes.

Hayes, 59, said it has been a convenient, healthy option for the organic food she serves.

"I've made more than a couple of tasty meals of white potatoes and string beans," she said.

What Hayes views as more important though, is the fact that it has allowed neighbors to get to know one another.

"The garden's going to bring some people together and they'll become friends and start looking out for one another once again," she said.

It has been useful to others who had no access to a yard of their own, like Missy Feathers, 36, who lives on a sailboat in the marina downtown. She has used herbs from the garden to make homemade pizza as well as fresh salads.

It takes a few hours of work each week for a successful plot. Hilde­bran said the group will open an additional 20 plots in the next year and she has a waiting list to join the garden.

Austin Bogues can be reached at or (727) 893-8872.

fast facts

The Bartlett Park Community Garden is located at 1443 Highland Street South in St. Petersburg.

The Bartlett Park Community Garden celebrates its first anniversary on Saturday, Feb. 28 from 7:30-11:00 pm at Twigs and Leaves Nursery, 1013 MLK Street South, with music, food and local art auction.

Green Florida

For more information about Green Florida, call Andrea Hildebran at (727) 643-7189 or visit the garden's website at

Garden replaces eyesore in Bartlett Park 02/24/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 25, 2009 11:40am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Video: Rays Souza on that oh-so-bad dive, and reaction from Twins fans


    What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking when he made that oh-so-bad dive for a ball in the seventh inning Friday? Well, we'll let him tell you ...

  2. What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking on that comically bad dive?


    What could Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. been thinking in the seventh inning Friday when he dove for a ball and came up yards short?

    Actually, he insisted after all the laughing, teasing and standing ovation from the Twins fans was done, it was a matter of self-preservation.

  3. Judge tosses life sentences for D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo


    McLEAN, Va. — A federal judge on Friday tossed out two life sentences for one of Virginia's most notorious criminals, sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, and ordered Virginia courts to hold new sentencing hearings.

    A federal judge has tossed out two life sentences for D.C. sniper shooter Lee Boyd Malvo. [Associated Press, 2004]
  4. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser, dies


    Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday at a hospital in Virginia. He was 89.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, participates in Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on March 5, 2009, in Washington, D.C. [Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
  5. USF eliminated by UCF in AAC baseball; Florida, FSU, Miami win


    CLEARWATER — Roughly 16 hours after a ninth-inning collapse against East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference's double-elimination baseball tournament, USF returned to Spectrum Field presumably set for a reboot.

    It simply got booted instead.

    ’NOLES win: Tyler Holton gets a hug from Drew Carlton after his strong eight innings help Florida State beat Louisville.