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Fond du Lac, Wisc: A Community Deals with CG "Problems"

  • Subject: [cg] Fond du Lac, Wisc: A Community Deals with CG "Problems"
  • From: Adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Thu, 20 May 2004 08:32:05 EDT


Community gardening means having to serve the community around you, and as far as humanly possible, keep the neighbors happy.  Here is a piece about recent problems and a proposed solution in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.

Adam Honigman


Posted May 20, 2004
Fond du Lac's Community Gardens in crossfire
Complaints include drinking, public urination
By Peggy Breister
the reporter pbreister@fdlreporter.com

A public committee on the Community Gardens is being formed following concerns about the project raised by what appear to be one or two neighbors.

"I don't have any problem with the gardens, I just don't like the location," said Howard Deanovich of 802 S. Pioneer Parkway, whose backyard abuts the 12-acre site at the corner of Pioneer Road and Grove Street.

Deanovich said he attended an open meeting on the gardens Wednesday night to represent the concerns of his neighbors.

Asked by The Reporter how many people he represented, Deanovich would not answer.

The other three people who attended the meeting at the University of Wisconsin-Fond du Lac spoke in favor of the gardens.

Last year, county officials received complaints about headlights from vehicles, people in the gardens after hours, public consumption and public urination at the gardens. The county Highway on Airport Committee was ready to boot gardeners off the site until it heard from gardeners and members of another county committee, the Education, Agriculture and Extension Committee, the committee that oversees the garden project.

Jim Costello, chairman of the Ed and Ag committee, said he couldn't think of a nicer thing to have in his backyard than a garden. The gardens, he said, are an overwhelming success and represent a broad range of cultures, with white, Hispanic, Hmong and African-American people gardening at the site.

Swayed, the airport committee voted to allow the gardens to continue with an annual review to address any problems. During its discussions, the committee discovered that several of the garden's neighbors had encroached on county property. Those neighbors received a notice this week that they must remove all shrubs, trees, plants, structures and landscaping from county property within 30 days or the county will remove it for them.
The gardens began in 2000 with 32 gardeners working plots on one acre.

In 2003, the number rose to about 100 families working 242 plots. Community Gardens Coordinator Patty Percy said 100 plots are rented so far this year. Plot sizes range from 20 by 20 feet for $15 to 20 by 40 feet for $20 to 20 by 80 feet for $30.

Percy said her goal for the site is to expand it so gardeners are using the entire field without disturbing the neighbors.

Gardeners will meet next week to receive a set of rules about the gardens that include respecting others' property, garden hours and weed control.

"The neighbors don't want this in their backyard," Deanovich said. "There was no garden there when I built my house."
He said garden waste left behind by the gardens has led to a rat problem, and he doesn't like to see people in the gardens when he is outside enjoying his backyard. Percy said the gardens are tilled at the end of the season, plowing under garden waste. Last year, the tilling took place in November.

"I have been out there gardening for three years, and I am very satisfied with the gardens," said Steve Schneider of Fond du Lac. "I haven't seen any problems out there, and I'm out there early and out there late. This is an excellent opportunity for people, and I would hate to see this opportunity go by the wayside."

Schneider said he sympathized with Deanovich, but the fact is the gardens are on county property.

Both Schneider and Deanovich said they would be willing to serve on the garden committee.

Terry Sterr, a master gardener who also attended Wednesday's meeting, said he also would serve.
The committee will meet as needed through the growing season and once at the end of the season and once before the season begins to address any concerns about the project. Its first meeting has not been scheduled

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