"Other cities are paying the greatest attention to the matter of vacant lot gardening. So should Columbus. While this subject is up, we should drop down two or three dozen other things and concentrate our attention on vacant lot gardening . . . If there would be more gardening, there would be more happiness, truer citizenship, less poverty and less crime." -Ohio State Journal, 1917
Urban gardening is not new. Neither is the concept of urban garden preservation. It has been a discussion in Ohio since long before many of us were born, and was rejuvenated several years ago in the city of Cleveland. Diverse partners gathered around tables and discussed priorities and strategies to give gardeners, gardens, and greenspace a more permanent place in the landscape of northeastern Ohio.
In 2004, Adele DiMarco Kious consulted for EcoCity Cleveland and presented a report titled, "Preserving Community Gardens in Cleveland; Sustaining Long-Term Financial, Social, and Environmental Value." This report identified priority gardens for preservation, discussed the social, environmental, and financial value of gardens. It looked to other cities for examples of garden preservation, and examined local resources in the government, garden and greenspace non-profits, and land trusts.
In 2005, smaller groups began collaborating at different levels on the garden preservation project. The Cuyahoga Community Land Trust, Cleveland Botanical Garden, and OSU Extension began working more closely on preservation models and identified two pilot gardens in the City of Cleveland.
In fall of 2006, this smaller collaborative began working to develop a zoning ordinance designed specifically for urban gardens as a layer of policy to cushion the gardens' place in the fabric. Some call it a small step towards more permanent preservation. The Urban Garden Zoning District was established by Cleveland City Council in March. The first gardens to be zoned are now being introduced in City Council, and pending planning meetings and a vote, will be zoned as urban gardens by June.
Urban gardening is not going anywhere. People will continue to grow and eat home grown food no matter what. Urban garden preservation may be able to give them the space and sense of place to do just that.
For more information on Urban Community Garden Preservation, contact:
Created: 2008-04-11, Updated: 2008-04-30