January 9, 2013

Are "community gardens" too ugly to have in a conspicuous place in a city park?

Controversy in Madison, Wisconsin.
Critics of the plan say weeds and scraggly vines would be visible to nearby residents and cars rushing by on West Washington Avenue, and that public park land should not be carved up for gardens used by only a few.
But.... vegetables!!!!

44 comments:

LYNNDH said...

The old Not In My Back Yard thing.

Mitchell the Bat said...

And then they'll want lighting so they can play night games.

Shouting Thomas said...

Madison is one of the great SWPL Whitopias!

NTTAWWT!

Dan from Madison said...

A perfect example of this is on the strip of land on the bike path that is behind Atwood Avenue. It has been a community garden of some sort for a while now. It always looks fine in the Spring, but by late Summer is just an atrocious bug breeding ground.

Triangle Man said...

Here is a view of the community garden that Dan From Madison mentioned.

Also, I think we can all agree that bike paths are a terrible waste of tax payer funds to benefit a privileged few bike riders. I kid, I kid.

TosaGuy said...

Most people like planting a garden and harvesting a garden. Few people like doing the tasks in between.

Inga said...

Who Hmong us would deny their neighbors a way of providing for themselves? Have you ever gone to the Madison Farmers Market? It puts food on their tables and may earn them some extra income.

sydney said...

The garden could be very pretty if the city planted a border of flowers around it. But, if I were a gardener, I would worry about theft in such a very public place. What's to prevent some of those park patrons from grabbing a few tomatoes, a few eggplant, maybe a fresh lettuce or cabbage or carrot here and there?

Kris said...

I completely disagree with Dan from Madison about the Atwood gardens being an eyesore from the bike path. I don't think they are at all. I think they're kinda cool.

To me, Mr. Taglia in the linked article has the best argument, which is to question why the city is allocating precious lakeside property for the private benefit of a few?

SteveR said...

If they grew arugula, who could object?

Michael said...

Inga:"Who Hmong us would deny their neighbors a way of providing for themselves?"

Indeed. I hear your front yard is available

Michael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CWJ said...

It's public land. How would theft be a problem. To each according to his needs, Comrade.

To that end, they should plant some beer bushes, as well as cigarette vines and wine weeds.

TosaGuy said...

Most manicured parkland posing as "green space" is wasted space and not very "green" at all. It is a budget buster to keep nature at bay.

We need to get out of the concept that every square inch of a park must be neatly mowed and landscaped. That 1920s concept of landscaped naturalism is waste.

Our parkland has value and needs to be developed to reflect people's more active partication with nature and the outdoors.

Part of that may include gardens, but the value of that land must be respected and those that get to use it need to have some skin in the game.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

A community garden can be quite pretty, if planned correctly and maintained.

Raised beds. Greenhouse. Walking paths. Benches. Pretty fencing to keep petty theft down. Flowers interspersed with the vegetables. Shrubs to fill in the bare spots that will seasonally occur. Interesting sheds and structures for tools. Bird houses. Whirligigs. Pretty signage to inform what the crops are.

Here is an example on which I am basing my own garden area. We are finishing up with the fencing this spring.

A community garden can be beautiful, functional and educational. Plus it can also be self funding if done right.

Hammond X Gritzkofe said...

Would not be a problem or an issue if the City did not own the land.

Just sayin' ... (as someone who sees more and more real estate transfer from ad-valorem tax paying rolls and become tax exempt, and wonders where it will end.)

Ann Althouse said...

"It always looks fine in the Spring, but by late Summer is just an atrocious bug breeding ground."

Bugs... all you need is a rat sighting and that will be the end of it.

elkh1 said...

One person's weed, another person's wild plant. Are there anything more natural than weeds?

Lawns and grass are planted by humans, maintained by humans, waste water and fertilizers pollute ground water. Planting gardens to provide fresh vegetables is a more productive way to use water and fertilizers.

"weeds and scraggly vines would be visible to nearby residents and cars rushing by ..."

What's wrong with that? Do people rushing by in their cars care or even notice the weeds?

the wolf said...

Yes, but what will Julia do when she retires?

elkh1 said...

CWJ said...
"To each according to his needs, Comrade.

To that end, they should plant some beer bushes, as well as cigarette vines and wine weeds."

What is wine weeds? How about weeds that one smokes, the weeds that are legalized in some states recently? They are green and really pretty to look at.

TosaGuy said...

Hammond raises a great point about property tax rolls.

At some point, only the very wealthy and suckers will own land. The wealthy will have the means and the pull to keep the ability to use their land. Meanwhile, the suckers will work their fingers to the bone to pay (taxes and covenants) for the privilege to "own" property.

edutcher said...

I thought the Lefties were all for the peepul.

TosaGuy said...

Edutch,

Lefties love the peepul.....as long as they don't interfere with the sensiblities of those lefties that are better than the peepul.

Meade said...

"Do people rushing by in their cars care or even notice the weeds?"

Now there's an idea: It's Madison. Grow weed!

Oh. Nevermind.

Michael said...

DBQ: The deer in your part of the world will leap over that fence without taking deep breaths! You will need a top. And a 30-06.

Seeing Red said...

--Who Hmong us would deny their neighbors a way of providing for themselves?--

Some of your neighbors are about to be denied a way to protect themselves.

Get with the collective.

TosaGuy said...

"DBQ: The deer in your part of the world will leap over that fence without taking deep breaths! You will need a top. And a 30-06."

In the right spot, that is a feature, not a bug!

carrie said...

Some plots in community gardens can get to be pretty overgrown and ugly. And then you have the rotting produce of the people who don't bother to harvest it. Community gardens should be hidden!

carrie said...

Some plots in community gardens can get to be pretty overgrown and ugly. And then you have the rotting produce of the people who don't bother to harvest it. Community gardens should be hidden!

Dust Bunny Queen said...

@ Michael.

Oh yes. Deer proofing. The main reason for the fence!! 8 ft high. The gates will have to go up to the top as well. This should work until they figure out how to open the latches. I don't put it past them.

Got the gun issue covered. Actually, most of the time I don't want to hurt/kill the damned deer so we shoot them with a pellet gun. Unfortunately, they really aren't that afraid of us. Photo of them standing about 3 feet from my office window.

ndspinelli said...

I walk the bike path on the eastside of Madison. Along the path for ~3 blocks are community gardens. I find it the most pleasant part of my walk. Hmong use these plots but they also rent property from farmers out in the country. I see them out there on hot days working their asses off. That's why always buy my produce from them.

Bryan C said...

I just don't see the point of community gardens on public land. Surely even in the tenement-infested asphalt jungle of Madison there are a few people with nice yards who'd be willing to share with their neighbors.

TosaGuy said...

"Hmong use these plots but they also rent property from farmers out in the country. I see them out there on hot days working their asses off. That's why always buy my produce from them."

Me too. Usually is quality stuff at a fair price. I also avoid any vendor at a farmers market with a cute name on their truck.

Astro said...

Too bad nobody ever invented hedges that could be used to decorate and block an unsightly view at the same time.

garage mahal said...

We bike along the community gardens bike path behind Atwood. There are weeds, but wouldn't it be all weeds without the gardens?

Darrell said...

In Chicago, any enthusiasm for those gardens waned when the entire harvest would disappear just before it began. The people doing the work never got to enjoy their reward unless they picked some early and not ripened. Rumor had it that the booty would show up at "farmer's markets" in other neighborhoods.

Vince said...

People in cars rushing by shouldn't be looking at gardens!

Vince said...

People in cars rushing by shouldn't be looking at gardens!

sydney said...

DBQ,
Electrifying the fence would work. Put an electric fence wire across the top. Place peanut butter on it at strategic intervals early in the season, and you train the deer not to try to jump it.

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Dan from Madison,

It always looks fine in the Spring, but by late Summer is just an atrocious bug breeding ground.

I would be surprised if that were so, but in any case it would be hard to be much pestered by bugs if you were actually biking on the bike path.

Sam L. said...

Vegetables! The Looming Horror Of Brussels Sprouts!

Dan from Madison said...

"I would be surprised if that were so, but in any case it would be hard to be much pestered by bugs if you were actually biking on the bike path."

Don't be surprised, look for yourself next late summer. Take a long walk around it. You can decide for yourself.

Basta! said...

There's a nice "community garden" in Boston on 7 acres in the Fenway section of the Emerald Necklace. It was started as a Victory garden in WWII, for the specific purpose of growing food. It has little dirt paths meandering through it, and makes a pleasant walk, though I wouldn't go down there at night (anyone remember "What's the frequency, Ken?").

The people who are lucky enough to have plots mainly live in apartment buildings in the area, and use the plots as private yards. There's never been any charge for getting one.

The Fenway Victory Garden website says that the majority of "owners" now grow flowers instead of vegetables --- there goes the original justification. Also:

"The net result is that the demand for gardens has become overwhelming, to the point where it seems impossible to make gardens available to all who desire them. Of course every effort will be made to place every deserving applicant."

And that's the problem. How fair is it that some people, somehow adjudged more "deserving" than others, get to carve out public land to use as private yards, with no remuneration to the taxpayers who actually own the land? And who decides who's "deserving"? In a civic culture as corrupt as Massachusetts', who would be surprised at finding that applicants who "know" somebody suddenly appear at the top of the list?

Ken Nicely said...

I say nay, go for what your heart strives for when it comes to gardening, the garden is somewhere where all people can be blissful, I hope.

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