Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sense of community takes root in urban gardens

Robin Milcowitz looks across the modest Tampa park at the end of 22nd Street and sees not a quiet stretch of mowed grass and trees, but vegetables.

All kinds of vegetables. And herbs. And fruit. Maybe flowers. Most importantly, people.

She sees the future Seminole Heights Community Garden growing here, neighbors side by side digging, growing local, and reaping produce for a fraction of what they would pay at Publix. Not to get too poetic about a venture involving worms and manure, but she sees community.

Thriving community gardens take various forms, but often it's local folks working individual plots for a nominal fee, planting what they like and reaping what they grow.

"We'll have that," says Milcowitz, a graphic designer. "But I want it to be just a beautiful place for people to come."

It can be work, finding the right land and someone willing to lease it, sell it cheap or, in the best of all worlds, donate it outright. These are hard times for grass roots.

But Tampa City Council member Mary Mulhern recently put some muscle behind the idea of community gardens. And Milcowitz says since they put the word out through neighborhood associations and the local penny saver, her phone hasn't stopped ringing. "People," she says, "are ready for this."

• • •

The garden in St. Petersburg's Bartlett Park, 24 plots and more to come, stands testament to all who planned and worked and built and mulched. People pay $25 a year to grow their own tomatoes, collard greens, black-eyed peas, cilantro, eggplant, peppers, cabbage and more.

Folks were enthusiastic even before the economy went south. "Now it just has more urgency," says founder Andrea Hildebran, also executive director of Green Florida, an organization for people interested in community gardens.

Tonight, the former weedy lot, hangout and home to trash and broken glass, celebrates its one-year anniversary as a garden, homage to the sweat that built it. (The party's at 7:30 p.m. at Twigs and Leaves Nursery, 1013 Martin Luther King St. S.)

• • •

A scrap of land behind a metal fence by a school in urban Ybor Heights might seem an odd place to try to grow local hope. But grow it will. Nine plots have been squared off. They have dirt. Neighbors can plant free; others can pay $20 a season.

Behind that fence, the beginnings of tomatoes, carrots and lettuce go in the ground in two weeks.

• • •

Recently, Mulhern hosted a community garden get-together. Talk ran the gamut from places like Town 'N Country's Sweetwater Organic Community Farm, whose paid membership gets weekly produce, to smaller gardens to nourish neighborhoods.

Over 100 people showed.

"The interest goes up as the economy goes down," Mulhern says. "It's really kind of the Victory Garden model."

Victory Gardens, planted to help communities with food supply and morale in hard times. Maybe there's an idea whose time has come. Again.

Interested? Go to www.green-florida.org.

Sense of community takes root in urban gardens 02/27/09 [Last modified: Saturday, February 28, 2009 9:05am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pasco targets repeat offenders with new code enforcement tactic

    Local Government

    HOLIDAY — The out-of-date and overpriced gasoline cost on the sign outside — $2.69 for a gallon of regular — is the first indication that business isn't booming.

    Basil A. Almamluk is the owner of the closed Pure Gas station in Holiday, which has emerged as a poster child for a new "high return'' county code enforcement effort. The property on Mile Stretch Drive is littered with discarded furniture and other trash. [Photo courtesy of Pasco County Sheriff's Office]
  2. Pasco tax roll shows increase, but so, too, are budget requests

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County's tax roll grew by more than 5 percent in 2016, but it's a figure that likely would require local government budget writers to trim proposed spending requests.

    OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times
New construction accounted for $693.5 million in taxable property values being added to the Pasco County tax rolls in 2016, according to preliminary estimates released by Property Appraiser Gary Joiner. Overall, the property tax roll grew more than 5 percent, according to the preliminary numbers.

  3. Tampa Bay Super Bowls: A brief history and some predictions for 2021

    Bucs

    At last, Tampa will host a Super Bowl again. It used to be that the Cigar City would host one a decade, but by the time February 2021 rolls around, it will have been 12 years since the epic showdown between the Steelers and Cardinals. Because it has been awhile, let's revisit those past Super Bowls while also peering …

    Santonio Holmes hauls in the game-winning touchdown in the Steelers' 27-23 Super Bowl XLIII victory over the Cardinals in 2009, the last time Tampa hosted a Super Bowl. [JAMES BORCHUCK | Times]
  4. Rays bats go silent in second straight loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Sure, Alex Cobb was to blame for the Rays' 4-0 loss on Tuesday.

    Derek Norris strikes out with the bases loaded as the Rays blow a golden opportunity in the seventh inning.
  5. Analysis: Manchester attack was exactly what many had long feared

    World

    LONDON — For Britain's security agencies, London always seemed like the likely target. For years, the capital of 8 million with hundreds of thousands of weekly tourists and dozens of transit hubs had prepared for and feared a major terror attack.