Planting Bush Beans and Citrus Trees at the Hardy Yards

Here’s a short documentary, uploaded at the end of July, about a group of Fifth Warders doing “guerrilla gardening” — as one shovel-wielding fella describes it — on a bit of the Hardy Yards, that 50-acre patch of former Union Pacific rail yard off Burnett St., just north of Downtown.

Video: Aprill Renee

11 Comment

  • This may be splitting hairs, but the Hardy Yards is typically considered to be part of the Near Northside and it’s in 77026 (which is mostly Kashmere Gardens, but its borders seem to be shaped by rail lines.)

    This lot is north of Burnett street, then its not actually part of the hardy yards. I was under the impression that this lot was owner by Blumenthal Sheet Metal.

    The Hardy Yards lot is owned by Cypress Developers, who are proposing an enourmous new development, but there has not been much movement on it for more than 5 years. The proposal they relased in 2006 is here:

    With all that said, neat project!

  • I am all for urban gardening, but not sure I would eat anything grown on that site. I used to manage environmental for a company closely tied with the site, and reviewed the quarterly ground water contamination reports. We also were continuously remediating, excavating, and resampling new contamination sources.

    The site plans showed the historic “sludge lagoon” located at the northeast corner of the property, along with other buried leaking storage tanks and places where Pb based grease was deposited on surface soil (from greasing rail car axles since the 1860’s).

    Great idea, terrible location.

  • Superdave, do you know if the environmental issues at this site will have any impact on the proposed Cypress development?

  • Superdave is right, no doubt that land is contaminated. So that means,whoever is growing food on that land is ruining their own health, if they’re giving that food away to family and friends, they’re doing a huge disservice to them (and could be civilly liable), and if they’re selling it, they’re committing a felony.

  • Reading post #1, it does not seem that the garden is located at Hardy Yards, only nearby. If it is north of Burnett, then the elevation is probably higher than at Hardy Yards. Even if the groundwater plume migrated offsite, it would seem unlikely to directly affect the topsoil. (And it seems unlikely that they’re using well water.)

  • @Rob – Back about 5 years ago, the owners were applying for a “Municipal Setting” designation from TCEQ, with support from COH. This would effectively place a deed restriction on any development on that site that would prohibit anything that would penetrate or disturb the groundwater plume. Then they were planning to build retail and residential buildings. Not sure what the status is.

    @TheNiche – there was a lot of soil contamination, too…but they did a bunch of of “dig and haul” activities to clean it up over the past 10 years. I would still take a soil sample before doing anything within a 1/4 mile of that site. Even nearby residences were affected by windblown soil/dust containing lead (Pb).

  • So…trespassing and remaking someone else’s vacant land via a Facebook mob is now socially acceptable, hip and “green”? What’s next, guerrilla communes in vacant houses?

  • @ JoeDirt:

    So, these folks are gardening in a vacant lot that is:
    -will not be developed in the imminent future

    And their project is:
    -helping the community
    -beautifying a nasty brownfield
    -effortlessly reversed by any future development

    And the problem is… What now?

  • @dangdang, simple, they don’t have the right or permission (that I heard of).

  • I think Joe Dirt’s point of what is wrong is pretty obvious; it’s illegal and is vandalism and is an act done without respect to the legal owner’s wishes. This gang needs to use the concept of collectivism to pool any funds they might have, embrace capitalism, buy their own land and then make a video.

  • Sure, the site is contaminated, but as long as they get approval from the TCEQ that any final development will be protective of people who live there, they can build whatever they want. And TCEQ tends to be very generous when it involves redevelopment of brownfields.

    This would probably require overexcavating around any utilities to make sure there’s at least 3 feet of clean soil around water lines, and at least 3 feet of clean soil and/or some other impermeable surface like concrete overtop of any remaining hot spots. Those should be well documented, as long as work has been going on at the Hardy site.

    I find it highly unlikely that nearly 50 acres of empty land right next to downtown is going to be left fallow because of a “little” contamination, though.