New Port Richey City Council members unanimously voted Tuesday, Feb. 19 to give final approval to an ordinance that amends the city’s land development code to allow folks to plant community gardens on private property in any of the city’s zoning districts.
This was the second of two votes needed to pass the ordinance.
The ordinance stems from a request from the city’s Environmental Committee, a citizen advisory group. The group has been requesting such an ordinance for some time.
“I think that this is a wonderful idea that they’ve come up with,” said city councilman Bob Langford. “This will take care of some of the bad, ugly pieces of property in the city and turn it into useful lots.”
Deputy Mayor Rob Marlowe said he thinks the ordinance “is going to be a great addition to the city.”
“I would hope either the environmental committee or perhaps the recreation center could put together some classes or instructions to teach those of us without green thumbs how to grow this stuff,” he said.
Rose Mohr, an owner of the Market Off Main in downtown New Port Richey and co-chair of the environmental committee, said the committee endorses the ordinance’s approval.
When the ordinance came to the council earlier this month for the first of the two votes needed for approval, she mentioned that ordinances like this exist in other municipalities.
"They really are the wave of the future and increasingly the status of the present," she said. "At least for those interested in such things as a healthy environment, food security, ecological sustainability, local food supplies and a healthy diet."
She said the ordinance "will create opportunities for property owners to make use of vacant land, encourage residents to grow their own food, and inspire people to take an interest in the natural world, their neighborhoods" and ecology.
About the ordinance
The ordinance defines a community garden as “a piece of land dedicated to urban agriculture and gardened by a group of people that provides access to fresh produce and plants as well as access to satisfying labor, neighborhood improvement, sense of community and connection to the environment.“
The gardens must be privately owned, accessed and managed.
The ordinance defines community gardening as “an activity on property where more than one person grows produce and/or horticultural plants for their personal consumption and enjoyment of friends and relatives and/or donation to a not-for-profit organization, generally on a not-for-profit basis.”
The ordinance states that a community garden is not intended to be a commercial enterprise, but there may be occasions when a surplus is available. Under the new code change, produce and plants grown at a community garden shall not be sold wholesale or on the premises except at a garage sale.
Residents are permitted to plant produce and plants in community garden plots, according to the new rule.
Community garden plots must be planted with produce or plants. Stockpiling dirt, compost, mulch or other non-plants is not permitted. Ancillary compost, mulch and soil storage within the community garden boundary may be permitted.
All community gardens would be required to register with the city’s environmental committee annually under the ordinance. Code enforcement will be responsible for enforcing the ordinance.