Teacher can continue growing controversial garden, judge says

(WMC-TV) - The fight over a Memphis garden once again went to court Friday morning.

Memphis teacher Adam Guerrero, whose garden has seen its share of controversy, was joined in Environmental court by several of his students, including Jovanta Thomas.

"We support this guy a lot," Thomas said. "He teaches us a lot and we got to keep it going so we can stay out of trouble."

Judge Larry Potter told Guerrero he is pleased with the way Guerrero has maintained his garden.

"I'm pleased that I get to keep the garden of course and continue to do some of the activities there," Guerrero said after the hearing. "I understand the judge has some concerns regarding the commercial nature of it, but I'm very happy he says he'll work with me."

Guerrero calls his garden a way for neighborhood kids and families to have access to fresh produce and learn about gardening and the environment. But neighbors like Levi Dowdy showed up in court to call it a nuisance, saying it smells and brings in pests.

"There's nothing he's done that'll solve this problem," Dowdy said. "When you got a lot of stuff in your backyard and you got to bring rotten vegetables to feed them. It creates rodents."

In August, environmental court declared the property a nuisance. Guerrero was ordered to clean up weeds and grass, maintain a clean and sanitary exterior, and refrain from accumulating or storing debris and personal property outside.

Judge Potter told Guerrero the court's order to keep the property maintained still stands. In the meantime, the judge has ordered a status conference with the attorneys on both sides to try to help resolve the matter.

If necessary, Guerrero is scheduled to appear back in environmental court on October 21st at 10:30 a.m.

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