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Shelton Community Gardens Debated

by Jodie Mozdzer Gil | Mar 12, 2010 3:14 pm

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Posted to: Shelton

Could gardeners bring down a neighborhood?

You’d think so, judging by the reaction to a proposed community garden in Shelton.

Neighbors of the proposed site oppose the project, citing concerns about potential traffic, vandalism, and — yes — crime.

Dozens of neighbors are up in arms about the city’s proposal to start the community garden on a parcel of the former Klapik Farm off Long Hill Avenue.

They have put up posters, signed petitions and packed the Board of Aldermen meeting Thursday night to argue against approval of the plan, which could bring about 60 plots to the land.

The proposed plots would be 20 feet by 20 feet each. Residents would pay $20 a year to use the land, under the proposal.

The neighbors are concerned about traffic that might be generated on a cul-de-sac, Long View Road, which is where access to the farm is proposed.

They are also concerned about security at the gardens, about the cost of the project and even the people who have expressed interest in participating in the community garden.

(Click here to read PDF minutes from the Conservation Commission meeting where residents also spoke about their concerns.)

Randy York, a resident in the neighborhood, said at the meeting Thursday the group has obtained a copy of the interested gardeners through a Freedom of Information request.

The list includes people from the Huntington and White Hills areas of town, where York said they should have enough land to plant their own gardens at home.

“They can afford their own in their own yards,” York said. “Why should foot the bill for them?”

(See the flier circulated in the neighborhood last week. Article continues after document.)

Other residents spoke in favor of the proposal, saying the gardens will help residents across the city be able to grow their own food. Some said that having a yard doesn’t mean the land can be successfully gardened. Others said they don’t have enough land to garden at apartments or condominiums.

Mary Ruth Shields, who said she came from a farming family, told the Board of Aldermen she wanted to be able to share that tradition with her own family.

“The community garden is about joy, giving, caring and creating relationships within our community,” Shields said.

Photo: Jodie Mozdzer

The mayor appointed a Community Garden Committee in January, and, by its February meeting, it had laid out some preliminary plans for the garden, said Shelton Conservation Agent Teresa Gallagher, a member of the committee.

“The site selection process was very methodical,” Gallagher said. “After you look at all the potential open space that we have, it’s just the obvious choice. If for political reasons they want to chose another site, we will work with that.”

Gallagher said the site needed to have good soil, which the Klapik site does. And the commission wanted to avoid cutting down more trees, so an open field was preferred.

Gallagher said much of the information put out on fliers (see above) and in conversations is incorrect. For example, Gallagher said she did contact neighbors to tell them about the proposal and that other sites were also considered.

Mayor Mark A. Lauretti has asked Gallagher to meet with him and the concerned neighbors at City Hall Saturday morning to discuss the proposal, Gallagher said.

Shelton Conservation Commission

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posted by: sheltontrails on March 12, 2010  5:05pm

A couple points: Neighbors were given a copy of the street names only where prospective gardeners live, not addresses or names.  I hope they were not able to obtain private contact information somehow—that would be completely inappropriate.

The number of plots was NEVER set at 40.  The first time the Committee discussed the number of plots was February 9, at which point it was set at 60. I never heard anyone on the committee say there would be 40 plots, and if they did, they would have been speaking as an individual member guessing how big the garden would be, not for the Committee.

The traffic has been seriously overestimated by the opposition.  Their number is based on conjecture and the number of times they are guessing people would visit their plots. The City’s number (72 cars per week) is based on statistics from the CT Community Garden Association, who conducted a query of CT and US gardens. 72 cars per week, or 10.3 cars per day, is equal to the number of cars generated by 3 new homes.

The cul-de-sac is a temporary one, clearly meant to be extended when the 40-acre Klapik property was subdivided at some time in the future. I would expect that the people who bought homes on that cul-de-sac would have known this, or should have known this.  The developer of the Klapik property would very likely have extended the cul-de-sac and built a number of houses along it, which would have generated far more traffic than this garden. Instead, the City purchased the land for recreation and farmland preservation. The people of Shelton have all the same rights to access the property via the cul-de-sac that the developer would have had.

The soil is classified as “prime farmland” by the State of Connecticut and really is exceptional soil. The successful garden and both good light and good soil. My shovel went down 12” like a knife through butter into a dark loam.

posted by: ROWOSO on March 13, 2010  12:33pm

Chill out, folks! Although I have no children, I pay to send your kids to school. All I want is to be able to share in the land my taxes helped pay for. We’re gardeners, not vampire bikers! I promise not to wash my clothes in your pool.

posted by: dave4garden on March 13, 2010  7:47pm

Great scare tactics <Randy>—- nice font it really scurrrred me.  Let’s talk facts.  They NEVER said it was 40 plots.  That was the number of people who pre-registered.  Also RANDY—if you are so concerned about the safety of the community— when was the last time you heard of a gardener vandalizing property… another scare tactic?  Do you assume people will break into our houses with their garden hoes and seeds?  Also—where do you get 400-500 cars??? All studies done show 1.5 cars per week per plot…what studies have you done…  As a former alderman - you know the city was going to purchase the land for recreational use for the community—- did you think that only applied if it wasn’t near your backyard? You also said it hurts more people then it helps?  YOUR street has 14 houses… 60 plots helps 60 households… help me understand your math!  Here the the bottom line… no one wants anything in their own back yard.. but if you are going to argue against it RANDY… be honest and truthful.  You may not need the land to garden but others do… who are YOU to say they are not welcome on OUR city streets!  If this whole idea is SO bad for the city… why would you propose it be accessed via Long Hill ave or any other area in our city.

posted by: EcoStarGarden on March 24, 2010  10:52am

I LOVE the community garden idea!!
There are so many benefits to the family, community and our world. We need to stop being so selfish and provide the opportunity to all that want to grow their own food. Gardening contributes to physical health, since activities such as digging, planting, weeding, and harvesting are all part of three types of physical activity: endurance, flexibility, and strength. The benefits of gardening are not all in the body; they’re also in the mind. Tending your garden is a real stress buster, helping relieve feelings of anxiety and providing a break from the general rush of life. Because the work involved is mainly physical, gardeners have a chance to think about their concerns, meditate, or just spend a few hours daydreaming. They can also feel a sense of accomplishment in a job well done.
At its roots sustainable farming benefits the local community and local economy while supporting the environment by enriching the soil, protecting air and water quality, and minimizing energy consumption. Industrial food production is entirely dependent on fossil fuels, which, when refined and burned, create greenhouse gases that are significant contributors to climate change. The biggest part of fossil fuel use in industrial farming is not transporting food or fueling machinery; it’s chemicals. As much as forty percent of the energy used in the food system goes towards the production of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. By adding transportation, processing and packaging to the food system equation, the fossil fuel and energy use of our current food system puts tremendous stress on the environment.
Did you know that most tomatoes purchased at the grocery store are picked when they are green and then sprayed with a chemical to make them red!?
Lets grow our food locally! Be Self-Sustainable!
Mother Earth will Thank you for it.
I am in favor of the Shelton Community Garden!

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