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Friday, August 24, 2012 - 11:30am

Savannah Grows Community Gardens

Savannah leaders are opening up city-owned property to community gardeners.

A new initiative is allowing residents to get their hands dirty on public land.

Savannah's City Council members approved the change a few weeks ago.

Gardeners now can seek a permit to grow fruits and vegetables on municipal properties.

But they cannot sell anything they grow on city land and officials plan to monitor the gardens to prevent them from being overgrown.

Peter Doliber of the city's West Broad Street YMCA oversees one such garden and says, their benefits are only partly about food.

"The downtown area really has a lack of green grocers. There's a few in some different places. But they're not always accessible for folks," Doliber says. "And to be able to get fresh produce that is grown right where you are and ripe and good really does help the nutritional needs of the families in this area not being served."

He says community gardens will grow more than just vegetables.

"When you get people working together in a garden there's something about getting your hands dirty and sweating hard and pulling and seeing those results and literally the fruits of your labor it really does build a strong sense of community," Doliber says.

Doliber's garden right now has peppers ands carrots.

More than a thousand parcels are now up for grabs in a program to turn blighted blocks into green gardens.