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Safety Harbor gives residents go-ahead for community gardens

First Presbyterian Church elder Jackie Smith surveys the church’s garden, the first under the town’s new sanction.

JIM DAMASKE | Times

First Presbyterian Church elder Jackie Smith surveys the church’s garden, the first under the town’s new sanction.

SAFETY HARBOR — Residents can start growing community gardens for food and fun.

The City Commission has adopted an ordinance allowing the gardens after a request from First Presbyterian Church of Safety Harbor.

But why the rules and regulations?

"There was a concern — and I was exaggerating — that some residents might put a cornfield in their front yards,'' said City Commissioner Mary Lynda Williams.

The ordinance, complete with limits and conditions, was approved at Monday's commission meeting.

First Presbyterian wants to create a separate nonprofit and lease plots of land for a small fee to interested Safety Harbor residents. The garden would be located on eight-tenths of an acre the church owns about a block away from the sanctuary.

Jackie Smith, a church member, said through the program, folks in need will be able to grow their own vegetables and "do for themselves.''

Vicki Garrett, projects coordinator for the American Community Garden Association, said the movement is less of a trend and more of an "upsurge.''

"With the economy the way it is, everybody wants to grow their own food,'' she said.

She said it doesn't take long to see results. If you plant radishes, you can eat them in as little as a month. It's sort of like nature's fast food.

Mayor Andy Steingold said his wife, Maryanne, who has been battling cancer, "has gone organic'' and is planning a community garden in the family's back yard.

"Community gardens go hand in hand with the quaint and small-town atmosphere of the city,'' he said.

The limitations and conditions of the new ordinance include:

• No gardening between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

• Hand tools and small power equipment can be used; gas-powered machines greater than 10 horsepower are prohibited.

• The property owner shall be responsible for maintaining the garden so it does not become overgrown, infested with exotic plants or vermin, a source of storm water runoff or polluted with chemicals and does not become a nuisance.

• Produce and plants grown in the gardens shall not be sold for profit.

• Gardeners must follow manufacturer's instructions when applying chemicals.

• In cases where the garden is located 10 feet from a residence, it should be properly screened.

Eileen Schulte can be reached at schulte@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4153.

Fast facts

To learn more

If you want more information on First Presbyterian Church of Safety Harbor's community garden, e-mail Jackie Smith at commongroundsh@verizon.net.

Safety Harbor gives residents go-ahead for community gardens 05/20/09 [Last modified: Thursday, May 21, 2009 6:12pm]
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