Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Motion supports making urban gardening program permanent

At last week's meeting, Cincinnati City Council adopted a motion by Vice Mayor David Crowley supporting the transformation of the City's Urban Gardening Pilot Program into a new, permanent Urban Agriculture Program.

Over the next three years, the program would be funded with $75,000 from the City's Energy Efficient Block Grant. No operational or capital funding would be required.

This year, community gardens sprang up in California, Northside, Over-the-Rhine, South Cumminsville and Westwood.

"Although this Pilot Program received a very late start (in terms of the growing season) with very little time for promotion or planning, the first years' outcome was very successful," said a statement accompanying the motion. "Six of the eight vacant lots were successfully transformed into community gardens."

The decision to continue to the program follows the release of a report put together by the citizens' advisory group, which established rules for and guided the operation of the pilot program.

In the report, the group recommended that the new Urban Agriculture Program identify additional properties for urban gardens, explore opportunities for partnerships and income generation, look for ways to better engage the public, and work to preserve existing farmland.

Also recommended was a nine-member advisory board, which would meet monthly. Six members, appointed by the City manager, would serve four-year terms. Three slots would be filled by the directors of the departments of City Planning, Office of Environmental Quality, and Public Services, or their designees.

"The success of urban agriculture is a result of both individual efforts and government-supported initiatives," the report said.

Created by Crowley as one of the 82 recommendations in the Green Cincinnati Action Plan, the pilot program is expected to beautify the City, make fresh foods more readily available, reduce storm water runoff, reduce the costs of property maintenance, and create local jobs.

Councilmembers Jeff Berding and Chris Monzel voted against the motion.

Photo credit: "Scenes from an Urban Garden" by Flickr user ItzaFineDay, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license,

Previous reading on BC:
Notwithstanding ordinances push community gardens forward (4/28/09)
Cincinnati Farm program could be in place by spring (1/12/09)
Crowley: Make vacant City parcels available for farms, gardens (10/30/08)