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Community Garden Cancels Welch Street Site Due to Neighborhood Pushback

WAUPUN — The Waupun Community Garden organization announced that they have dropped their plans to establish the community gardens on Welch Street following a number of neighborhood residents expressing concerns to the City Council about what the gardens might bring to the neighborhood

The Welch Street residents were primarily concerned about the use of pesticides on the gardens and how that could affect other gardens in the neighborhood. One resident in particular was concerned about whether it might damage her milkweed and monarch butterfly sanctuary which several neighbors helped maintain. 

The members of the City Council were blindsided by the controversy when the neighborhood residents brought these concerns to the meeting on Tuesday, as the location had already been approved for over a month at the March 14th Board of Public Works and City Council meeting

Jeff Daane emphasized that pesticides were not used on the gardens and that only a handful of people signed up this year.

In the wake of the meeting, the Community Gardens announced on Facebook Thursday morning that they would not be going forward with the plans on Welch Street

“So sorry to inform all our gardeners but we are going to cancel the plans for it,” the post said. “It will no longer be a service to offer. I loved the peace and the beauty it brought to the land it was on. So if you paid for your plots please come in and your money will be refunded. So sorry.”

It is unclear if the Community Garden will return for future years.

Some members of the community were shocked by the news and expressed their thoughts on the issue, including Jason Whitford who was outspoken about the issue on the night of the meeting. Whitford blamed the City Council for failing to act decisively to protect the community gardens as the location had already been approved and needed to begin work soon.

The Council acknowledged that the community gardens could not be put off any longer due to the quickly approaching summer. If the gardens are not established before the beginning of the growing season, it would be too late to plant crops to be fully grown before harvest time.

“This had nothing to do with the City Council,” Mayor Bishop said about the decision in a statement to WPN. “Many of the gardeners came to see me yesterday and the neighbors made the garden club feel unwelcome. They’re making the decision to cancel the garden based on that.” 

The City Council agreed to put the matter on the agenda for the next Council meeting to allow both sides to discuss their concerns and to make a final vote on whether the gardens should be moved to another location.

“The reality is the garden was very UNLIKELY to have been moved,” Mayor Bishop said. “I agree this is a sad situation as the garden is harmless, but it was a Community Garden decision, not the city’s.”

It is unknown if the Council will still meet about the gardens at the next meeting.