In this Dec. 1, 2011 photo, dwarf tomato plants grow at the University of New Hampshire greenhouse in Durham, N.H. The university has been experimenting with dwarf tomato plants as holiday decor. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Empty lots in Knoxville could soon be filled with various kind of vegetables. The city currently owns over 100 vacant lots - the plan is to make them more productive.
"We spend over $100,000 a year to maintain those lots. That's just cutting the grass essentially and making sure they're not dumped on, and if they are, that the trash is picked up," said Susanna Sutherland, manager of city's office of sustainability.
The city has applied to win up to $5 million in grant money from the 2012 Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge.
"Putting the blighted properties into food production - so from that, there would be a processing element where you'd clean the food, and a transit element where you'd ship the food to restaurants or markets that are buying it," said Sutherland.
"Jobs in the processing of those foods - perhaps preserving, canning and such - creating kitchens," said Mayor Madeline Rogero.
If Knoxville wins the money, the project would start in East Knoxville - something many there appreciate.
"That's good because I need a job - so that's gonna work out for me, hopefully," said Donnie Langley, who lives in East Knoxville.
"A lot of people I know need work and I think it would help them, and it would help their families," said Narita Rodriguez, who also lives in East Knoxville.
The city said some of the lots would also act as community gardens - giving people in need the chance to get healthy food for free.
A $5 million grant winner and four $1 million winners will be announced early next year.