Press Releases


February 29, 2012 -- Today the City of Houston broke ground on a new community garden at the City of Houston Permitting Center (HPC), located at 1002 Washington Avenue, making it the newest in a family of gardens and green projects by Mayor Annise Parker.  The project has turned previously unused land into a working garden that will be maintained by the building’s employees.

Joining Mayor Parker for the groundbreaking and dedication ceremony was Alice Waters, famed restaurateur and a pioneer of the sustainable-local food movement.Waters is in Houston at the invitation of The Progressive Forum for a lecture that was held on Monday evening at Wortham Center.

Employees on the "HPC Green Team" launched the effort in response to the Houston Green Office Challenge, an initiative by the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. The HPC Employee Garden mirrors the 611 Walker and Tranquility Garden projects previously started as part of Mayor Annise Parker’s sustainability initiative.

“Our employees are excited to turn this previously unused and unattractive space into a working garden that they may enjoy for years to come,” says Mark McAvoy, executive director of Houston Permitting Center. “Community gardens produce numerous benefits for gardeners and communities alike, and we expect this one to beautify the area, yield a variety of fruits and vegetables, and provide opportunities for learning, recreation, exercise and comradery.  Hopefully it is a model for community gardens at other city facilities.”

The garden has five raised beds, one for each floor of the HPC, and employees have planted and will maintain and harvest the produce grown there. They also hope to install compost containers as well as rain-barrels to store water for irrigation, and to add fruit trees as well as flowers.

Says Urban Harvest Executive Director Mark Bowen, “Urban Harvest applauds the City of Houston's vision and initiatives in support of urban agriculture, sustainability and improved quality of life for Houstonians. The City of Houston is leading by example with this new urban garden constructed with recycled materials that will serve as a simple garden model that could easily be replicated at workplaces all over Houston.”

Inspired by the 150-plus community gardens already in existence on a neighborhood level, these city gardens are an incredible amenity to all who live and work in the area. “The gardening techniques and knowledge acquired will inspire implementation to residents’ backyards, and hopefully inspire local business to grow vegetable gardens around and on top of public and private office buildings all over town,” says Mayor Annise Parker.   “The end result will be a greener and more sustainable city.”

Also participating in the event were Laura Spanjian, director of sustainability for City of Houston; Mark Bowen, executive director of Urban Harvest; Mark McAvoy, executive director of Houston Permitting Center; and Steve Stelzer, program director for City of Houston Public Works & Engineering Code Enforcement Green Building Resource Center.

Partners in the project are City of Houston and Urban Harvest, and in-kind sponsors are Keep Houston Beautiful, Scotts Miracle-Gro and San Jacinto Environmental Supplies.

For more information, contact Urban Harvest at 713-880-5540 or visit