Laurens City Council held their first meeting of the year Tuesday night. Mayor Sharon Brownlee’s opening remarks referred to the passing of the holidays and the property tax deadline, and her concern over the current flu season.
Besides going into executive session regarding a personnel matter, the only matter of business was discussion of the pros and cons of using current city owned vacant properties to establish community gardens.
Brownlee said that, “I have been wanting to do this for a long time.”
No final decisions were made by council, other than they were all in agreement that they wanted this project go ahead. This meeting was mainly an open dialog on the many issues that go along with such a project.
Special Projects Director, Tommy Burns has been inspecting potential properties that may be suitable for gardening, but no specific addresses were mentioned.
City Clerk Gary Coleman, who is also a farmer, reminded council that there is only a short period of time that remains until April, when planting season usually begins, but he did think it could be done.
Brownlee said that she did not want the gardens over regulated by government, but admitted that certain guidelines needed to be established.
Council was given a copy of an article by the New Mexico State University which lays out some of those guidelines that are necessary to start a community vegetable garden.
Some of the guidelines discussed by council were related to establishing a planning committee, finding a coordinator, organizational structure, and requiring the garden be used only by residents from the same neighborhood.
Other issues discussed were caring for the plants, It was made clear that the city would not be responsible for watering, and would only till the land initially.
Another issue was protection from theft and vandalism. Councilor Marian Miller, brought up the possibility of a city resident owning fenced in property loaning it out for use as a community garden. It was, however mentioned that there would need to be certain wavers to protect the owner from liability.
“This project has many positives, and we want Laurens to be known as a community minded city,” said Brownlee.