Maintenance issues emerged as a concern today as the Common Council's Community Gardens Task Force discussed a resolution approved last week that would facilitate urban gardens and farms on vacant city-owned property.
Performance-based leases will allow the city to reclaim inadequately maintained land, which has been a problem previously, but the measure does not currently address design matters that could ease mowing in the spaces. It is among concerns expected to be tackled as the effort develops.
The discussion follows a resolution that will create agricultural zones throughout the city, form a database to keep track of land suitable to farming and extend the task force another year. It is also intended to beautify neighborhoods and expand access to fresh fruits and vegetables in communities where such foods are rare.
Councilman David Rivera, D-Niagara, the measure's sponsor, expects that the database take effect within three to six months, though it is unclear when the zoning portion will be active.
Rivera said urban agriculture is becoming more popular throughout the city. "We're seeing more interest from block clubs as we demolish more homes."
The measure is expected to affect the city's East and West sides predominantly, where vacant and abandoned lots are disproportionately present, and is seen as a component of a broader effort aimed at crime reduction and neighborhood revitalization. It follows similar successful efforts in cities such as Portland, Ore.; San Francisco; and Seattle.
Several community gardens are already under way throughout the city.The Community Gardens Task Force was created in 2008 to find better uses for the city's vacant and abandoned land. It is assisted by Buffalo Growing, an organization committed to the growth of urban gardens and healthful foods that disseminates seeds, aids bulk purchasing and holds workshops.
For more information, please visit http://buffalogrowing.org.
Image: Cold Spring Community Garden and Google Sketchup Conceptual Design