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When It Comes to Gardens and Markets, City Hall Has Right Idea ... and the Wrong Solution

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Now, it's on to that community gardens and neighborhood farmers market briefing. Follow along at home. Try to keep up.

A city staff guy, Eric Griffin, is talking to the city council about community gardens. I interviewed Griffin for my story about how City Hall does everything it can to screw up and kill community gardens.

Griffin is describing community gardens in very glowing terms: He's talking about how community gardens in other cities have reduced crime and improved surrounding property values.

He wants the council to establish a strong policy statement in favor of community gardens. Good idea. That's a good way to convey to the staff that community gardens are not a crime.

Second step he says is to "expand land for food production." That, he says, will require re-writing the city's "development code" -- the law governing what you can do with land n the city -- to make sure it allows gardens.

Also he says the council should find a way to open up land owned by the city for gardens. And finally --- uh, oh, here's the killer -- he thinks City Hall should establish an "ombudsman of community gardens" to control who can have one.

Yikes. Why does City Hall always go straight to the Soviet solution? People just want to grow 'maters, man. Why do they need an ombudsman? Butt the hell out why don't you?

Now a guy named Jack Ireland from the City Manager's Office is talking about farmers markets.

This is the big Soviet solution. His is the guy who is going to tell us why City Hall needs to control farmers markets.

"What we would like to do is see the markets be complementary so they have the same rules and processes before they are allowed to operate. We also want to ensure there is oversight."

This is exactly how the city has screwed the downtown farmers market into the ground -- by spending tons of bond money on stupid buildings and then regulating the farmers so hard that they all stop coming. That's a big reason the city has seen this blooming of neighborhood markets.

Now the Municipal Ministry of Food Production is going to go out and step on those too.

Carolyn Davis says the farmers market downtown needs to "do a better job of educating our schools." I think she's saying she likes the Dallas Farmers Market, which is nice. It has very little to do with this briefing. She says the market needs to "do a produce section where you can buy fish."

Hmm. Radical. Fish in the produce section. I like it. I like everything. I would like to see more produce in the fish section. I have always wondered about radishes. If you threw them in a lake, would they sink or float? This is great.

Well, now she's saying we shouldn't go outside the farmers market.

"I look at neighborhood community gardens different from a neighborhood farmers market. I think we can do a neighborhood farmers market, but I think it can be there [at the downtown market], where we can do green bags."

I agree.

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