Decatur Writes Guidelines to Prevent "Nuisance" Gardens

7:11 PM, Jun 16, 2010   |    comments
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Oakhurst Community Garden Project

DECATUR, Ga. -- It all started at the Oakhurst Community Garden Project.  It's an acre of carefully tended vegetables and herbs and such for its members in its surrounding urban neighborhood.  

The Oakhurst garden also cultivated a gardening fad -- with rogue community gardens popping up on vacant properties in neighborhoods around Decatur.  

"People are realizing that food that's grown close to home is ten times fresher, it's healthier and it's a lot better for the environment," said Lindsey Mann, who was tending some lettuce at the Oakhurst garden.

In part because of their popularity, the city of Decatur is writing guidelines to govern gardens on city property.  It's also implementing annual fees.

"This is city property. It's very important that we ensure that community gardens are well planned out," said Lena Stevens, Resource Conservation coordinator for the city of Decatur.


The sentiment seems to be consistent with a collective mindset that thrives in Decatur and is embraced by its culture of cultivation.

"The city of Decatur has a very strong environmental direction and I think they're concerned about keeping in line with that," said Mann.

What's not to like?  Well, even in Decatur, the community gardens aren't universally embraced.  In one neighborhood off DeKalb Avenue, there was just enough opposition to stop a community garden from sprouting at the end of a street.

"I think the main concern people have is it will become a public nuisance of some kind. and that's really what these guidelines address," said Stevens.

What kind of nuisance?

"Oh, tall weeds and grass, or they don't want people parking on their street,  or things like that," said Stevens.

Thursday night, Decatur officials will meet with the public -- presenting its garden guidelines and accepting input.  Then, they'll see what blooms.

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