Hamilton urban garden wins approval to add storage container on property

An urban gardening organization that has been operating since 2015 has won approval to place a 40-by-8-foot shipping container on its property at 545 S. Front St., in the city’s Second Ward, also known as Riverview.

HUGS, which stands for Hamilton Urban Gardens, will use the container as a storage unit for equipment used at the 1.8-acre site, where a variety of vegetables and fruits are grown for several uses, including providing fresh produce to impoverished people who have trouble affording it.

“We’re thrilled that we were granted the conditional-use permit to be able to use the shipping container,” said Michelle Merrett, a HUGS board member.

Volunteers at the community garden grow many vegetables and fruits, including okra, squash, tomatoes, eggplants, collard greens, green beans, spinach, raspberries, strawberries and blackberries.

HUGS, which has owned the property since 2018, will place the shipping container, which it promises will be well maintained and aesthetically pleasing, on a gravel pad slightly larger than the shipping container.

Some 90 percent of the produce grown is given to local food pantries, community-meal centers and residents living in the food-insecure neighborhood.

“HUGS has become a very crucially needed resource in this neighborhood,” the organization’s application stated.

HUGS grows its produce on raised garden beds and in a large greenhouse that allows gardening throughout the year. In addition to producing food, it also helps people learn how to become gardeners.

The container will be situated 12 feet from the southern property line and 58 feet behind the eastern property line along South Front Street.

The city’s planning commission in November recommended the exception with several conditions, including that the shipping container must be free of rust and holes, must be painted as the organization said it would, and if HUGS ever stops farming at the location, the container must be removed.

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