Fifth Ward residents say a community garden started by a former councilman attracts flies, rats and other pests.

The fifth ward – Neighbors in the Fifth Ward neighborhood say they want the rat and fly infestation from the community garden to go away.

“Look at all the flies,” said Rodney Thomas. “They’re all on campus.”

Thomas said he has had fly infestations on his hands for the past two years. Thomas lives in the 2200 block of Leffingwell Street. He said the pests, including rats, came from a neighboring community garden. The garden was a passion project of former Houston City Councilman Jerry Davis to bring food to the neighborhood.

“I don’t think it’s fair to live with that fly infestation you see on a ranch,” Thomas said. “By the board of health, many neighbors, 311 has been mentioned repeatedly and will not clear it.”

Thomas asked why the garden, which was supposed to be open to the public, had three locks on the fence.

“It’s not open to the community,” Thomas said. “He used to store chickens and stuff in there and that’s what caused a lot of trouble.”

Angel Farias lives across the street. Farris said complaints to various Houston city bodies and Davis himself about odors and pests fell on deaf ears.

“To me, it was just a lack of understanding and a sense of entitlement on his behalf… ‘Well, I’m Jerry Davis.’ “I felt like he could do whatever he wanted,” Farris said.

KPRC2 spoke with Davis when he visited a property he said was being leased by the Land Bank of Houston. Davis said he could have done a better job of maintaining the property, but the garden is a pest attraction.

“We didn’t get any rats in there. I mean, there are rats around here,” Davis said.

Barsi told KPRC2 he mentioned the property twice in 2021 for chickens, which attract mice and flies. The city’s animal shelter said the property was in good condition after the chickens were removed and no violations had been reported as of Monday.

“Yes, I have some chickens here and I was told that we don’t order, we are too close to the building, and before that we were giving eggs to people,” he said.

Davis previously said the community garden was open to the public when there was grant money.

“We’ve done composting, we’ve done waste, we’ve done recycling. We have done all these things on the property,” he said of some of the facilities that were already open to the public. “Now we can’t be open all the time because it’s a liability.”

Davis said he can’t write any grants and is using his own money to maintain and expand the community garden.

In the Fifth Ward, he said he is transitioning from traditional gardening to hydroponic gardening for the community due to the issue of creosote soil from the Union Pacific Railroad. He said he would provide financial assistance to get water and electricity supply to the property.

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