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Good works sprout with community garden

By ANDREW MEACHAM
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 18, 2002

ST. PETERSBURG -- It's planting time again for Palmetto Park neighbors. Backed by a $3,000 grant from Front Porch Florida, neighbors cultivated lettuce, turnips, collard greens and other vegetables this year on a city-owned lot, then gave the produce to the neighborhood's elderly shut-ins.

The Palmetto Park Neighborhood Association leases the land from the city. Residents commit to work and maintain 6- by 12-foot sections individually, and are free to experiment. Some have produced okra and cabbages. Others have tried their luck with corn, tomatoes, even sunflowers.

"You'd be surprised what you can put in there," said Alfredo Miller, the association's vice president.

Behind a padlocked fence, the lot at 2519 Third Ave. S sits mostly idle now, although Miller said potatoes are still growing underground. Grass and weeds threaten to overrun each bed, but that is about to change.

The association is hosting a fundraiser Saturday to prepare for another season of charitable works, which include more than tilling soil. For several months, residents have searched for ways to help seniors with unmet needs. They have planned a survey to help identify seniors who may not be receiving existing services.

The neighborhood has larger ambitions as well. Miller, 69, stood outside his home Thursday at 234 27th St. S and looked to the south. A young man in a white T-shirt was strolling the block, first on one side of the street, then the other.

"The real goal is to help these kids and these old people," Miller said. "You can't rest here."

Loud music from young people, he said, keeps other residents up at night. He talked about drugs, and the need to offer young people alternatives through job training. As much as anything else, Saturday's event is a statement of a neighborhood's purpose, he said.

The Community Awareness FundRaiser 2002 runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the corner of First Avenue S and 31st Street, former site of Puckett's Store Fixtures. Mayor Rick Baker, Deputy Mayor Goliath Davis, and City Council member Rene Flowers are scheduled to attend.

The Greater Pinellas Point Civic Association and the city will team up Tuesday for an auto theft and crime prevention rally, 5-7 p.m. at Bay Vista Recreation Center, 7000 Fourth St. S. St. Petersburg police will host a bicycle clinic with free registration, and allow canine units to show off their skills. The association's membership meeting at 7:30 p.m. is after the rally. Rep. Frank Peterman, D-St. Petersburg, is the speaker.

Meetings

BARCLEY ESTATES: 7 p.m. Tuesday (6:30 p.m. covered dish). St. James United Methodist Church, 845 87th Ave. N. Fred and Becky Harriman, St. Petersburg Police Volunteer Road Patrol and Disabled Parking Enforcement; representatives from codes, police departments.

BAYOU HIGHLANDS: 7 p.m. Thursday (6:30 p.m. social). Coquina Key Resource Center, 435 45th Ave. S. Open forum.

CENTRAL OAK PARK: 7 p.m. Tuesday. St. Luke's United Methodist Church, 4444 Fifth Ave. N. Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark.

COUNCIL OF NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATIONS: 7 p.m. Wednesday (6 p.m. social). All Children's Hospital conference center, 701 Fourth St. S. Candidates' forum, Florida House of Representatives, District 6 judicial race.

FRUITLAND HEIGHTS/CASLER HEIGHTS: 7 p.m. Wednesday. New Hope Baptist Church, 2120 19th St. S. City neighborhood team.

HISTORIC OLD NORTHEAST: 7 p.m. Monday. Westminster Presbyterian Church, 126 11th Ave. NE. Neighborhood 2020, a pictorial survey presented by the planning committee.

JUNGLE TERRACE: 7 p.m. Monday. Walter Fuller Recreation Center, 7891 26th Ave. N. Candidates' forum, Pinellas County School Board; Florida House of Representatives, District 51.

LAKEWOOD ESTATES NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH: 7 p.m. Tuesday. St. Petersburg Country Club, 2000 Country Club Way S. Representative from state Division of Driver Licenses.

PERKINS: 7 p.m. Monday. Stewart Isom CME Memorial Church, 1820 Walton St. S. Neighborhood Partnership grant application.

TWINBROOKS: 6:30 p.m. Monday. Childs Park United Methodist Church, 3940 18th Ave. S. Open forum.

WINSTON PARK: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. North Branch Library, 861 70th Ave. N. Codes supervisor Mike Vold.

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