Please Keep the Cincinnati Neighborhood Gardens Program Funded in 2009 & 2010 To: Mayor Mark Mallory, Vice Mayor David Crowley, and the Cincinnati City Council: We, concerned residents of Cincinnati and Hamilton County respectfully request that you fully fund the Cincinnati Neighborhood Gardens Program for $40,000 in 2009 and for $40,000 in 2010. Cutting this program to $0 does not seem an acceptable solution to budget constrictions. The Neighborhood Gardens Program has 4 currently stated goals: * Assist low- and moderate-income neighborhoods in developing vacant lots into gardens * Supplement these residents' food budgets with fresh produce * Clean up and maintain Cincinnati neighborhoods * Provide access to educational recreational opportunities Listed are examples of the current Neighborhood Gardens Program benefits: * 42 Community Gardens * Over 600 Gardeners * Provides outreach to over 2000 community residents * Donated 1524 Pounds of Food in 2007 * Recorded 7,384 Volunteers Hours in 2007 We believe these goals and achievements are an excellent argument for the programs continued funding. Additionally, the City of Cincinnati's own "Climate Protection Action Plan" calls for the expansion of the current community garden program on pg. 180 under Recommendation #3. This underlies the importance of Vice Mayor Crowley's recent proposal (Item: 200801277 ) that city controlled vacant lots be offered at nominal costs to residents who will agree to farm or garden the land and maintain it free of blight or nuisance conditions. Cincinnati's "Climate Protection Action Plan" also sites the American Community Gardening Association, saying," community gardening improves peoples' quality of life by providing a catalyst for neighborhood and community development, stimulating social interaction, encouraging self-reliance, beautifying neighborhoods, producing nutritious food, reducing family food budgets, conserving resources and creating opportunities for recreation, exercise, therapy and education." The budget states that part of the reason for the programs financial cuts are the City's desire to fund the Cincycare Pilot Program, which will serve 2,000 residents of Cincinnati. While we recognize the importance of health care for all and believe this a great goal for the City, we also believe that this goal can be met without cutting the Neighborhood Garden program. Solutions to consider: * Most simply, the budget of the Cincycare pilot program could be cut to $460,000 per year in 2009 and 2010. This represents only 8% of the total budget of this pilot program, while the cut to the Neighborhood Gardens program is 100%. * Currently, the City Manager's Budget Message of 2009/2010 states on pg. 39 that TOTAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT is $4,898,000 in 2009". Page pg. 14 states that the Economic Development budget will show increased revenue from $0 in 2008 to $46,510 in 2009. This money could make up the difference in funding the Neighborhood Gardens program, considering the loss to the Economic Development budget would only be 0.9% of the Economic Development budget. * The Strategic Program for Urban Redevelopment (SPUR) budget went from $0 to $500,000 in 2009 and $500,000 in 2010. Some of this money could be utilized to fund community gardens The benefits of community gardens programs are many and they are finding support more and more within communities around the country. Directly and indirectly, local and nutritious food helps contribute to solving many problems our city, county, state, and nation faces, including: the health care crisis, energy independence, climate change, food security, and economic stability. We encourage you to fully fund Cincinnati's Neighborhood Gardens Program in 2009 and 2010. Thank you, Concerned Citizens of Cincinnati and Hamilton County
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