If you haven’t had a chance to drive by the Bartlett Park Community Garden in St. Pete, I’d urge you to stop and smell the cabbage. The year-long effort has already paid off with a bountiful harvest of vegetables and fruits, as well as promoting some goodwill and friendship in a tough neighborhood.
But beyond the food and fellowship, the Bartlett Park Community Garden is paving, er, clearing the way for other community gardens to follow in its footsteps.
When I wrote about the community garden last year, I mentioned that St. Petersburg land use codes prohibit a nonprofit from operating in a residential area. And though many cities offer exemptions for community gardens, St. Pete does not. Undeterred, the folks at Green Florida worked with the city to gain a temporary use permit for the site. But they also circulated a petition and reached out to elected officials to change the law.
Now that hard work is paying off. District 6 City Councilmember Karl Nurse recently directed city officials to draft new land use regulations that would permit community garden. So far, preliminary rules would require interested citizens to apply for a permit and have at least a majority of neighbors on board with the plan. This is a good example of — oh, I have to say it — grassroots activism. Ha! Although, I must admit, the rules seem a little bureaucratic to me.
Personally, I’ve always loved guerilla gardening.