Garden news: No bird feeding and community garden takeover

Gardening makes the news.

Sometimes we don't think of gardening as a newsy topic. But in the news today are efforts to stop a woman from feeding the birds, an attempt to replace a community garden with a police substation, and -- in a positive vein -- a food bank growing vegetables hydroponically.

California controversy
According to a story at, the city of Fresno is trying to evict a group of Hmong gardeners from plots they have tended for 13 years and replace the community garden with a police substation.

The city wants to move the gardeners to a much smaller plot several miles away, but after more than a decade, the Hmong growers understandably don't want to leave the soil they've improved and the infrastructure they've created.

Garden or shopping center?
A garden is also threatened on the other side of the pond where a retired woman in Ireland has refused more than $400,000 to give up her garden so the land can be transformed into a shopping mall.

The Belfast Telegraph reports: "The developer behind plans for the old Livestock Market site in Limavady today defended moves to vest land that is part of a pensioner’s beloved garden. ... Ms Hunt turned down the offer in 2000, because, she said: 'I love it too much.' She has lived in the house in Catherine Street since she was born and she said at the time that money was not everything. She preferred to spend her final years sitting in her garden and feeding the birds."

Grandmother told to cut back on bird feeding
If she lived in Coventry, England, Ms. Hunt might not even be able to feed those birds. The Telegraph says: June Coton, "who has been putting food out for the bluetits, starlings, and sparrows in her garden for 20 years, was warned that she could face legal action from her local council if she does not desist from feeding the 'feral' birds. Coventry City Council said it was considering serving an abatement notice - similar to orders given to neighbours who play loud music late at night - to curtail her bird feeding."

A garden of significance
To many people, Taranaki, on the west coast of New Zealand's  North Island, might be considered off the beaten track.It's one of those places usually called "unspoiled" (although you may have heard of it because of the Tom Cruise movie "The Last Samurai"  was filmed there).

But it has an annual garden festival and one particular garden in particular is making news. The Taranaki Daily News reports: "In 1972, Valda Poletti and David Clarkson had a half-acre section of New Plymouth wasteland covered in gorse, blackberry and fennel. Today they have a 'Garden of International Significance.' Their garden off Awanui St, Te Kainga Marire, is one of four New Zealand gardens selected for the New Zealand Gardens Trust's new garden category."

Hydroponic vegetables for the food bank
In St. Petersburg, Fla., the Tampa Bay news goes beyond baseball. According to the St. Petersburg Times, "The Volunteer Way food bank [in New Port Ritchey] was handing out the usual nonperishables — rice, beans, cereal and canned tuna — when Wendi Szaiff came in Monday. She picked up a few staples but also got something new: a bag of freshly picked lettuce. ... The lettuce was grown behind the food bank's warehouse on Congress Street, where the nonprofit has set up a sophisticated hydroponics garden to harvest fresh vegetables.

"Officials at Volunteer Way hatched the plan six months ago to put more food on its shelves, at a time when demand was going up and supplies were dwindling," the article continues. "They hope to create a renewable source of produce while encouraging food bank patrons to consider healthy options."

Even as some gardens are threatened, others are moving ahead with feeding those who need it. It makes you feel a little more hopeful about the state of gardening.

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