Friends of the
St. Bernard Community Garden
let out a collective sigh of relief last month after the city stepped in and saved their garden.
As we reported
in mid-December, the parcel of land at 1010 S. St. Bernard Street unexpectedly went up for sheriff’s sale on December 19, opening up the possibility of a developer buying up the property and kicking out the gardeners. Members quickly mobilized and began raising money to buy the land. They also convinced the city—with help from Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell—to bid on the property, ensuring it would remain part of the community garden.
With a few contingency plans in place, garden members were confident of a positive outcome going into the sale. Despite some very tense moments, the sale ended up being a huge victory for the community.
The bidding started at $1,000 and quickly reached $50,000—more than the city was prepared to pay. City officials didn’t seem interested in placing a bid at that price point, but thanks to garden members shouting frantically, the auctioneer put the process on hold and moved on to other parcels. When the property came back on the block, the city quickly put down a $71,500 bid; the sale closed shortly after. The garden members had won their ideal outcome.
But the story doesn’t end there: With the city now in full ownership of the parcel, garden members hope to see the plot transferred to a land trust so it can remain a community green space and asset in perpetuity.
In another wrinkle, the garden’s second parcel (1008 S. Saint Bernard) is owned by a private entity, and still has to be secured. When that property goes up for sale—something expected to happen in the next year or so—garden members will be ready. The money they have raised so far will be saved, and more fundraising efforts will be put together to ensure St. Bernard Community Garden is preserved in its entirety.
: Trevor McElroy, St. Bernard Community Garden
: Greg Meckstroth