Millions of people plant gardens to provide fresh food for their families at a fraction of grocery store prices. But recently, it seems that cities have launched a war against this simple act of self-sufficiency.
For the past week, the online world has been ablaze with news that a Michigan woman has been fined and threatened with jail time for planting a vegetable garden in her yard. Seem impossible?
After a sewer pipe broke on their property, Julie Bass and her family had to dig up their whole front yard to repair it. Rather than plant a water-sucking lawn or ornamental plants, they opted to build a set of raised beds and grow food on their property instead. After checking with the zoning board, they learned that the city of Oak Park allows decorative plantings, and Bass felt that a beautiful yard full of fruits and veggies would fit the bill.
This means a) somehow vegetables aren’t considered suitable live plant material and b) if Julie Bass had chosen to instead pave over her entire lawn with asphalt, the City would have left her alone.
How You Can Help
Starting today,Natural Newsis urging real food advocates to bombard the Oak Park City Planner’s office with phone, fax and email complaints that point out the inappropriate interpretation of city code and the wisdom of planting a vegetable garden.
Action Item #1) Sign the online petition!
It already has 14,000 signatures (as of this writing) and lots more on the way!
Action Item #2) Contact Oak Park city officials, including City Planner Kevin Rulkowski:
Be sure to CC the City ManagerRick Foxwho needs to be kept in the loop so he understands the gravity of Rulkowski’s actions:
If you wish, you may also cc the Mayor of Oak Park,Gerald E. Naftaly:
Action Item #3) Follow developments on Julie’s blog, which you will find at:
She has a “donate here” button on the top of the page where you can donate to her legal defense fund (to help pay some of her legal bills). Please consider making a donation to this cause. She is now being represented by Solomon M. Radner, founder of Radner Law Group (in the Detroit area).
- Tips for Growing and Sharing Your Own Food
- Big Vegetables In Small Spaces: How To Start A Container Garden
Image Credit: Flickr –ksuyin
Michele B. Decoteausays
I thought this was crazy! I have seen a number of folks in central Massachusetts turning their lawns from grass to a garden in response to the change in the economy. Her garden looks great – what is the problem?!
someone should donate to help pay to convert her supportive neighbors’ front yards…
Grow a hedge around your front yard so that the fat lady can’s complain about your healthy and constructive decision to grow your own crops.
if you don’t like city ordinances, which apply equally to everyone, then move somewhere that better suits your lifestyle like alaska.