To consider the recent, shall we say, intervention on the part of TDOT at a decades-old community garden, let's begin with a simple comparison of headlines: On the one hand, there's William Williams' piece in the City Paper: "I-440 Area Community Garden Bulldozed Following Complaints." On the other hand, there's Southern Beale's reaction to the news: "Who’s The Asshole Who Destroyed Nashville’s Community Garden?"
George W. Carver Food Park — located in the Sunnyside/Melrose neighborhood at the corner of Gale and Leland lanes and in the shadow of Interstate 440 — had become both an eyesore and a liability for the Tennessee Department of Transportation, which owns the land and allowed a group of citizens to maintain the small garden and composting operation on it.
B.J. Doughty, TDOT spokeswoman, said the group, called EarthMatters Tennessee and led by Sizwe Herring, had basically allowed the site to deteriorate, moving from its originally stated “green” goal of sustainable crop production and composting to a hodge-podge of uses.
“I don’t know of a single vegetable growing there,” Doughty said. “There were a couple of abandoned vehicles on the site.”
What the hell? Have you looked at the calendar, lady? Global warming notwithstanding, Nashville’s last frost date is April 5 — three days ago. There ain’t gonna be any vegetables growing there for a while. Are you a total moron, or just pretending to be one?
And I’m calling major bullshit on that “allowed the site to deteriorate” stuff. This is my neighborhood. I drive past here every day; I jog past here, I walk my dogs by here. It has not deteriorated. It’s a working garden. I’m sorry it doesn’t look enough like Cheekwood for you. This isn’t for the perfumed set to ooh and aaah over as they drink their sweet tea. This is for people to grow food. It’s an all-volunteer operation and yes, there are people working out here most Saturdays! In season, this is a vibrant community garden with, yes, vegetables and a rose garden honoring Deford Bailey.
Southern Beale's argument gets a bit more pointed further on:
I don’t know these folks who complained. Maybe they are extraordinarily sensitive — in which case, why move next to I-440? I just smell something else going on here, something along the lines of people not liking the poor blacks and dirty fucking hippies working together to plant a garden. That just really chaps some folks in the wrong place. I'm sorry but this just smacks of racism to me. If I'm wrong, well, bygones.
The Scene is investigating and will report soon.