Dear PoPville – Tracking down the owner of a vacant lot for a Community Garden?

Photo by PoPville flickr user johnmcochran2012

Dear PoPville,

I having been renting in Petworth for about a year in a group house with friends from all over the country. I live between two row houses occupied by families, and both have active gardens in the summertime.

This year I decided I wanted to build a raised bed and start my own. While spending a lot of time in the backyard gardening, I noticed that there are two enormous lots that appear to just be sitting there with no one using or tending to them. I think they belong to the city, but I haven’t been able to confirm this… If there is interest amongst my neighbors and the community, I am thinking about submitting a proposal to DPR to start a community garden. I also have a friend who started and managed a community garden that I will reach out to to get advice and pointers.

Any ideas on where I should get started on tracking down the owner of the land? Zillow and Google Maps have not been helpful thus far.

This is potentially really good timing, if District owned, as Council Member’s Cheh and Grosso have have just introduced legislation to encourage community farming on vacant lots –

“An Bill To amend the Food Production and Urban Gardens Program Act of 1986 to establish an urban farming land leasing initiative; to establish a nonrefundable tax credit for food commodity donations made to a District of Columbia food bank or shelter; and to establish a real property tax abatement for unimproved real property leased for the purpose of small-scale urban farming.”

You can read the full bill here – D.C. Urban Farming and Food Security Act of 2014

If the lot is privately owned – any suggestions on how to track down the owner? Would guerrilla gardening be worth a shot?

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