The Great Compromise of 2010


Let me go back just a moment and give you a run-down of how we got the green light from College Park City Council.  Similar to the Great Compromise of 1718, instead of trying to figure out how many representatives each state needed to represent the voice of the people, our argument boiled down to a 20×20 plot to represent the voice of the tomato.

Granted, when most people hear the word farm, they think of cows, chickens, overalls, bales of hay and giant tractors.  So, to the keepers of the beloved Historic Business District of College Park, a farm model simply wouldn’t fit…or so it seemed.

The Great Compromise of 2010 began on April 5, 2010 when Barbra Coffee, Economic Developer presented a cool idea for City Council to consider.  Why not have the City support (through in-kind participation) a start up urban farm venture that will double as a tourist attraction?  It would serve as a valuable tool for community revitalization, quality of life enhancements, and further the City’s commitment to downtown revitalization and sustainable growth.

Sounds pretty good right? Well . . . seems that City Council took issue with whether the property was zoned for agriculture or farming.  The language in the current code that governs development in the historic business distric was written just vaguely enough to lead interpretation wherever City Council wanted to take it. They challenged us to go out into the neighborhood to see if community members even wanted a farm there and we agreed to do so.  But before leaving, we asked City Council if we could plant a 20×20 plot just to demonstrate how quickly we could produce organic products with no chemicals and plenty of sunlight and love. Somewhat reluctantly, they said yes.  So we did.

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We chose a nice sunny spot near the broken down barn right beside the Caretaker’s House.  As you can see, our tomato plants love their new home and appreciate the compost we received from the College Park Golf Course.  Even our container gardens thrived. 

The reception from the Historic College Park Neighborhood Association and Historic Society was overwhelmingly positive and encouraging. So when we went back to City Council one month later, it was decided that eventually, it was the decision of City Council whether agriculture was permissible or not. They collectively decided to take a chance on us so long as we kept them abreast of our progress.

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