Lawn and Order: The Silly War on Home Gardening Escalates

Home-grown veggies are the new battleground in the fight between local governments and those citizens with a green thumb.
Looks illegal and sinister, doesn't it? (Photo: Urban Turf)
Jul 19, 2012

You’ll hardly ever hear that vegetables are bad for you. But in some cities across the country, planting them could get you into hot water.

The latest salvo in the war on home gardening occurred earlier this week in Drummondville, Quebec, where a couple was slapped with complaint because their garden wasn’t 30 percent grass.

“It must be a right to be able to grow our vegetables on our land. It is nonsense to ban it,” Michel Beauchamp, the garden owner, said.

MORE: City to Tomato-Growing Couple: 'You're Breaking the Law!'

Beauchamp and his wife are fighting to keep their vegetables, but city officials have threatened to fine them if the garden isn’t destroyed within five days. Officials are also working on drafting a law deeming it illegal to grow vegetables on front lawns.

The Beauchamps aren’t the only family forced to defend their front yard garden—cultivators across the country are encountering similar issues.

In June, Tulsa resident Denise Morrison grew a garden containing 100 types of edible and medicinal plants only to receive a letter from city officials demanding that it be removed.

She appeared in court to fight her case, but the very next day city workers came to remove plants, including the ones she used to treat her diabetes and arthritis, and cut down trees that grew fruits and nuts. Recently, she filed a civil rights lawsuit against the city, claiming the destruction of her garden was unauthorized.

“Not only are the plants my livelihood, they’re my food and I was unemployed at the time and had no food left, no medicine left, and I didn’t have insurance. They took away my life and livelihood,” Morrison told KOTV.

Last summer, Julie Bass of Michigan almost faced jail time for planting a vegetable garden in her front yard. And in Georgia, a man received a $5,200 fine for growing and selling vegetables to his friends.

More recently, in May, Eli Katzoff of Newton, Mass. was forced to remove his innovative hanging garden. According to city officials, the 13-foot wooden planks that carried 34 red buckets of growing tomatoes was built without a permit and violated a city ordinance that prohibts structures on front lawns, reports the Boston Globe.

If Katzoff didn’t comply, he would face a $300 fine each day. Luckily, he was able to set up a home for the spouting vegetables at a nearby school yard.

Should front-yard vegetable gardens be considered illegal? Let us know in the comments. 

More on TakePart:

Michigan Woman Faces Jail Time For Planting Vegetable Garden

Jane Says: It's Easy to Start a Kitchen Garden

Teaching a Nation to Eat Healthy Starts With a Small Seed 

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