City Council Resolves Community Gardens Issue

Thursday, March 26th 2009, 9:51 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The Tulsa City Council approved new language regulating community gardens Thursday night.

It comes after a city councilor claimed his questions about it were blown out of proportion, while supporters wondered how anyone could doubt the benefits.

A small group of neighborhood leaders -- all gardeners -- turned up a controversy by starting a community garden in the Crosbie Heights neighborhood.

Their initiative prompted the city to consider new rules that almost ended up making the idea impossible.

"The whole idea that a community garden can be anything other than a benefit to the community is absurd," gardener Michael Vogt said.

Community gardens weren't controversial until city councilor Jack Henderson questioned whether someone might plant marijuana or whether tractors would wake up the neighbors.

He didn't think the city should allow a community garden without 30 days' notices to the neighbors.

Scott Smith, the organizer of the Crosbie Heights garden, is sure the garden will do nothing but good for his neighborhood.

"It's definitely a front-porch culture we're trying to create over here," Smith said.

So far about the only thing to come out of this garden is a lot of rocks and a whole lot of controversy. But by this summer, the folks around here believe they'll have more than food -- they'll be growing relationships.

"I've made a lot of friends over here in just the last few weeks," Vogt said.

The gardeners of Crosbie Heights plan shared plots of lettuce, tomatoes and squash, but delays by the city council threatened to delay their planting.

After almost nine months of discussion, ending at the council, a new ordinance was approved that allows the gardens with some restrictions that supporters say they can live with.

"If that was the only way to get this ordinance passed, then we can deal with this," supporter Demalda Newsome said.

The restrictions include required notice to the neighbors starting next year and a requirement to post a sign with the name of a person responsible for the garden.