Can you blame someone for putting vegetable beds in their front yard after it was torn up for sewer repairs? I wouldn't, but the city of Oak Park, Michigan, seems to think that's an appropriate action to take against a mother of six who refused to remove her garden. Julie Bass has now been ticketed, charged with a misdemeanour, and may face up to 93 days in jail if a jury finds her guilty on July 26th.
The five raised beds she uses to grow corn, squash, tomatoes, other veggies, and even some law-abiding flowers can be seen in a photo embedded in this article from Treehugger. Frankly, that garden looks tidier than many front lawns I've seen, but apparently Oak Park City Planners take offence at how unsuitable edible plants are for a front yard. It would seem "suitable" means "common", and if you want to keep up with the Jones' you plant grass, trees, and flowers, but no veggies - regardless of how well or poorly they are maintained. I guess small-minded city bureaucrats like the proverb about the nail that sticks out getting hammered down.
But we don't have to let this happen without putting up a fight. Here's what you can do:
- Call Oak Park city officials. Check out Julie's blog to find contact information for the Mayor, City Manager, and other officials. Remember that one phone call is worth about a dozen e-mails, so please call if you can.
- "Like" the Oak Park Hates Veggies Facebook page.
- Tell your Twitter followers and Facebook friends about this in the weeks leading up to the trial. There are many reasons to support Julie, not the least of which is outrage that a cash-strapped city would spend so much money on investigating, charging, and prosecuting such a harmless act. If it can happen in Oak Park, it can happen where you live. I wouldn't want my taxes to be wasted on something like this!
Imagine you move into a house with better growing conditions in the front yard than the back (due to differences in size, exposure to sunlight, soil drainage, etc.). Would you consider planting veggies out front rather than out back? Would you fight the City if they disapproved of your "unsuitable" choice of plants?
Photo used under Creative Commons from Scorpions and Centaurs (flickr).