New Carrollton residents hope everything comes up roses for possible garden
Funding, bylaws still need to be determined, city officials say
New Carrollton residents with green thumbs but no outdoor space to spare hope the city will consider a community garden in which they can sow their own seeds.
Graham Waters, assistant city administrator, held an informational meeting Dec. 10 at City Hall to gauge interest in a city garden.
Resident Ed Pastula said he recommended a garden to the New Carrollton City Council in 2008 because it would save people money at the grocery store and serve as an educational tool for local students.
"I own my own house in New Carrollton and every year I put in a garden," said Pastula, who grows his own vegetables, such as cucumber and zucchini. "I benefited from that. I thought it would be a great idea for people who didn't have the opportunity to farm their own land to have their own plots, like people who live in the apartments [on 85th Avenue and Riverdale Road]."
A suggested spot is a 30-by-80-foot site at the now-grassy corner of Lamont Drive and Carrollton Parkway, Waters said. It would cost between $6,000 and $7,000 to start a garden, including at least $4,000 to $5,000 for a 6- to 8-foot perimeter fence, Waters said.
The city has not appropriated money specifically for a garden and the plans for one would need to go before the City Council for discussion, Mayor Andrew Hanko said.
Nearby towns with gardens include Cheverly, which opened the Cheverly Vegetable Gardens in Boyd Park this spring with 41 plots for residents. The garden was a group effort of the Cheverly Town Council, the Fourth Ward Civic Association and Progressive Cheverly, a community activist group.
Waters said he ideally would like a garden to start as early as the spring, with city employees in charge of the labor to create it. Possible fees per plot, bylaws and regulations about plot upkeep must be worked out, he said.
"Once you get a plot it's your responsibility to make sure it's not overgrown with weeds because your actions in your plot will affect the plot next to you," Pastula said in an interview. "I envision a nice community effort."
During the meeting Dec. 10, Michael Majestic, a Neighborhood Design Center project coordinator, presented three possible layouts, of six plots to 14 plots that ranged in size from 12-by-20 feet to 12-by-4 feet. The Neighborhood Design Center is a nonprofit planning and designing group located in North Brentwood.
Other recommendations included placing storage containers at the ends of the garden, allocating a section for a New Carrollton school to work on, and using raised planters for root vegetables such as carrots, beet and potatoes, he said. The garden also would feature a water pump.
Councilwoman Katrina Dodro suggested offering classes for residents new to gardening and to consider contacting the Maryland Master Gardeners, a gardening education group under the University of Maryland College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension Service. The group holds gardening clinics and has extensions all over the state, including Prince George's County.
Dodro said there would be little danger of vandalism since community gardens are typically seen as "sacred ground" because residents take ownership of them.
"It's going to be very, very important that all sections of the community have access to that garden," Dodro said.
New Carrollton resident Barbara Fisher said a garden will be a chance for residents to bond and for small children to learn from where their food comes.
Fisher, Carrollton Elementary School's Parent Teacher Organization president, said she started a flower garden at the school in 2007 for students to work on throughout the year.
"Personally I just love working in the dirt," Fisher said. "People don't realize the therapy that comes out of gardening."
E-mail Natalie McGill at firstname.lastname@example.org.