Creating urban gardens on vacant lots in economically depressed areas of Raleigh will now be easier, after a City Council vote Wednesday.

Progressive urban planning organizations maintain that community gardens can have a major impact, not only by creating additional food sources in areas with less access to grocery stores, but also by creating a gathering place within the community.

The Wedge garden is located behind the YMCA near NCSU campus. It is technically illegal.
  • Ryan Batten
  • The Wedge garden is located behind the YMCA near NCSU campus. It is technically illegal.

INDY Week previously reported on pirate gardens in Raleigh, which defy the current zoning code. Many of those gardens will now be under the umbrella of the new provision.

But the change won’t happen immediately. It is attached to an exhaustive overhaul of the city’s zoning code called the Unified Development Ordinance. City councilors could take anywhere from several months to more than a year to fully vet all of the changes.

Urban gardens in vacant lots, as opposed to lots with attached dwellings, had previously required a special-use permit, which required applicants to pay $200 and go through a special hearing process. Such gardens will be limited-use under the new code, removing the need for a fee or special hearing.

The change currently only applies to areas of the city zoned R-10, which allows up to 10 dwelling units to be built per one acre. The majority of R-10 zoned property runs from south to east along the city’s beltline and comprises many of Raleigh’s food deserts.

R-10 doesn’t include The Wedge, a pirate garden near NC State University, which we previously reported on. However, as changes to the UDO continue, R-10 zoning is likely to expand into more of the city’s core, according to city planners.

While The Wedge is technically illegal, it has benefited from city money and the city has made no effort to shut the garden down.