“Community gardens are springing up all over West Nashville, and we want that to continue to happen. These are great places for neighbors to spend time together, and they are a great way for city-dwellers to have fresh fruits and vegetables. This bill will take away current restrictions on community gardening and will encourage local food growing to flourish in our neighborhoods.”
Jason Holleman Metro Councilman District 24
Councilman Jason Holleman and Sarah Bellos Of Nashville Urban At Harvest At The West Nashville Community Farm
On May 21st Councilman Jason Holleman filed a bill that would expand the number of zoning districts permitting community gardening in Davidson County. The bill defines community gardening as “a group of individuals growing and harvesting food crops and/or non-food, ornamental crops, such as flowers, for personal or group use, consumption, or donation.”Current law prohibits community gardening as a primary use of lots in residential districts, furthermore, current law prohibits growing fruits, vegetables, or flowers for sale in all of Nashville’s urban services district.
A group of community gardeners, local food advocates, and countywide community members worked with Councilman Holleman in shaping the legislation, including the Food Security Partners of Middle Tennessee, Nashville Urban Harvest, Edgehill Community Garden, Earthmatters Tennessee, and Friends of the Nashville Farmers’ Market. Concerns were varied — the lack of access to healthy, affordable food in Nashville’s urban neighborhoods, the county’s dependence on food from other states and countries, and the need to support more “green” entrepreneurial activity in Nashville, but the message was the same: zoning laws have not kept up with Nashville’s changing needs.
Kate Lassiter, of Nashville Urban Harvest, helped found a community garden in West Nashville where volunteers grow food for sale to community members through a Community Supported Agriculture Subscription program. Shares in the program are subsidized for low-income families to increase access to fresh and healthy food. Lassiter states: “This is an important first measure in many ways. In addition to increasing access to fresh and nutritious food, the community gardening bill also encourages economic stimulus that has potential benefit for individuals and families living in Nashville. The use of neglected space for food production is a creative way to encourage local business ownership and increase revenue in Davidson County.”
The bill would not allow residents to raise livestock in the city; nor would it allow community gardeners or commercial community gardeners to operate farm stands in residential areas.
Holleman’s bill is currently being co-sponsored by ten other members of the Metro Council: Kristine LaLonde, Emily Evans, Erik Cole, Mike Jameson, Bo Mitchell, Megan Barry, Jerry Maynard, Sandra Moore, Erica Gilmore, and Darren Jernigen.