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Secret garden may have to go
Owner fumes over Vickery veggie plot
Parker Skelton, son of Vickery resident Pam Roberts, plays in a garden bed behind the development. - photo by Submitted
Nestled in the rear of the Vickery community, a garden on an empty lot has become the pride of a small group of homeowners.

But the five raised bed plots, each tended to by a Vickery family, have been threatened by the new landowner, Wachovia.

About a month ago, the group of five neighbors planted the fruit, vegetables and herbs on about a quarter acre plot, only to learn two weeks later the garden would have to go.

“They said you have to take it out, or we will take it out for you,” said Jackie Grote, who tends one of the beds. “Hopefully, they’re just bluffing.”

Grote, a Forsyth County master gardener, said the group was “bummed” about the situation. She conceded, however, that the garden was built without Wachovia’s blessing.

The garden was planted in the back of Vickery, she said, specifically so no one would see it. Grote and the other residents opted not to ask Wachovia for permission to use the property.

“Mainly the reason we didn’t is we knew they would say no, or I suspected they would say no,” she said. “We have since [asked] ... and they said no, absolutely not. No gardens anywhere.”

Steve Weibel, chief executive officer at Wachovia management company, Community One Associates, declined to comment on the situation.

Grote said Weibel has been working to help them, including trying to move the garden to a different location in the development.

“We’re trying not to take our garden out,” she said. “But at the point where we are now, they have said you must take it out.”

Wachovia hasn’t given a deadline for removing the community garden, which was the idea of Vickery resident Tori Davis.

Davis said the garden could restore a sense of community lost last year when ownership of Vickery transferred during foreclosure from developer Hedgewood Properties to Wachovia, the bank backing the investment.

“Everything around us had a tendency to have a doom and gloom kind of feeling,” she said. “We were coming together as a community because I feel like at this time, so many families are out of work, so [the garden] is our little way of contributing to our neighborhood or our community.”

Davis said parents have used the garden to teach their children and grandchildren about the benefits of gardening.

“They can go to the garden with their families and cultivate them and watch them grow and just enjoy the fruits of their labor,” she said.

Davis said surplus fruits and vegetables would be shared with local food banks.

In addition to the hours of labor in planting the beds, which range from 4-by-8 feet to 16-by-18 feet, the cost totaled about $750. Davis said she knew the financial risk when the group chose not to ask permission.

She said the bank was going to charge the group $300 just to submit a request for the garden.

“And we just said this is ridiculous,” she said. “Now we’re paying the price for not getting the approval. But we would have paid the $300 and they would have said no.

“We did not get it approved. We were hoping we would ask for forgiveness.”