NPR Library worked with the city’s Environmental Committee to develop the community garden ordinance (PDF), which makes it easy for residents to turn vacant lots into community gardens.
Though community gardens need to be registered with the city each year, a simple form (PDF) is all it takes. To encourage community gardens throughout the city, especially in lower-income neighborhoods, registration is free.
Among the rules community gardens in New Port Richey must follow:
- Only organic chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides) may be used
- Garden management falls on the applicant or property owner
- Community gardens are meant to be non-profit
- Produce and plants grown may not be sold wholesale
- On-site sales are usually prohibited
- Excess produce and plants may only be sold by individuals at approved venues in the area, including Tasty Tuesdays
The city also recommends that community gardens charge a small fee for plots in order to cover operating costs. As a side benefit, these fees greatly encourage renters to cultivate and maintain their plots.
Response to the community gardening program has mostly been positive. Participants not only enjoy growing low-cost, healthy food, they also appreciate urban farming because it:
- Strengthens community bonds
- Beautifies blighted neighborhoods
- Promotes health and happiness
- Lowers crime rates
- Engages kids in a positive extracurricular activity
As of December 2015, three community gardens had been established under the city ordinance.
They’re especially eager to teach students. Members taught USF students how to harvest at South Garden on Illinois Ave. At Grand Gardens, students from Gulf Middle School learn by volunteering.