One month after bulldozers showed up to demolish a decades-old community garden, a Metro councilman wants to establish a new commission in hopes of safeguarding Nashville’s community gardeners and ensuring they can flourish.
Stirred to act following the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s controversial destruction of 12South’s George W. Carver Food Park, Councilman Lonnell Matthews Jr. has introduced a bill to establish a Metro Community Garden Commission.
“The situation that occurred with George Washington Carver community garden prompted me to move forward,” said Matthews, whose district includes the Bordeaux, Joelton and Scottsboro-Bells Bend areas.
“We’re supposed to be the greenest city in the Southeast,” he said. “I thought we could put a body together of concerned citizens that had knowledge and expertise in working with community gardens to really just take community gardens in Nashville to the next level.”
The proposed commission, receiving no compensation, would consist of five mayoral-appointees, two council members and the Nashville Farmers’ Market director, as well as representatives of the Metro planning, parks and recreation, and health departments.
Responsibilities of the new commission would be to identify areas across the county appropriate for new community gardens, develop a long-term, comprehensive community garden plan and promote the concept of community gardening, among other duties. The commission would not be deemed an official Metro government commission.
Matthews’ ordinance is to go before the council on the first of three votes next Tuesday.
Officials at TDOT, which owns the George W. Carver Food Park (all of which remains are box gardens and open space) represented an eyesore. But organizers of the garden said they weren’t given enough time to scale down composting efforts and clean up the area.
“I wish we hadn’t [had] the situation at Carver Park,” Matthews said. “I wish there was a group that really had the time to dedicate on how to really resolve that in a more cordial way. If we had a group like that to take care of issues on the front end, then I think that would be beneficial as we try to grow community gardens.”
Matthews, who said he’s developed a growing interest in community gardens, knows of at least 30 community gardens across Davidson County. In his council district, he said a new community garden is going into Bordeaux Hills, while residents in Bells Bend are already engaged in community gardening.
Matthews said he and others are also considering planting community gardens on vacated properties along West Hamilton Road, severely damaged during the May 2010 flood.
Several West Hamilton Road property owners are taking part in Metro’s home buyout program in which their homes are to be purchased and demolished. Properties will then be converted to green space.