Jail time for planting a vegetable garden in your front lawn? This is a definite possibility for a mother in Oak Park, Michigan. The government authorities there have some real concerns over her front yard raised bed garden and claim it violates community standards.
But is this just another example of government intruding on individual liberties?
My husband–bless his heart–actually suggested a couple of years ago that we plant a vegetable garden in our front yard. His point was logical, in its own way. Our front yard gets a lot more sun than our back yard, so it's more suitable for raising vegetables. But I quickly put the cabash on that suggestion!
“WHAT WILL THE NEIGHBORS THINK????” I asked.
Well, I do think it's a good idea to be considerate of our neighbors' feelings. But do we want the government intruding in a situation like this?
This is the situation in Oak Park, MI: Julie Bass decided to plant a vegetable garden in her front lawn. The Oak Park authorities told her that this was a violation of community standards and ordered her to remove the garden. Ms. Bass refused. She is now facing the possibility of 93 days in jail, and her pre-trail hearing is set for July 26.
For more details of this story, see: My Fox Detroit.
As you might guess, I have some serious concerns about the Oak Park government's position in all this.
Concerns Regarding Julie Bass vs. Oak Park:
1. Faulty basis for government accusation
Oak Park City Planner Kevin Rulkowski states that the problem is with the city's law that the front yard have in it only “suitable live plant material.” He then quotes Webster's Dictionary as having “suitable” defined as being “common.”
First of all, Mr. Rulkowski is wrong. Both in my 1977 copy of Webster's and the online Webster's site, “suitable” is defined as:
So the question is then, is Julie Bass' garden “adapted to a use or purpose” or “satisfying propriety”?
Seems like a rather ambiguous judgment call, especially when one considers that Ms. Bass' garden seems well maintained and certainly no more unsightly than a poorly maintained front lawn. (Will the Oak Park authorities be going after those folks next?)
2. Big and Invasive Government
This is becoming a common theme in our culture these days.
For more reading on other atrocious ways that the government is attempting to control every aspect of our lives, see my posts on:
- Mothers in Jail – Parental Rights, the Government and Medicine
- FDA Poised to Ban Supplements in the US
- Don't Take Probiotics. Try Arsenic Instead!
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
3. Concerns About Ms. Bass' Conduct
In the article on Natural News, Mr. Rulkowski states that Ms. Bass called his office prior to planting and was told not to do it. That does not seem to match Ms. Bass' story, but it is not clear what the truth is here.
I phoned Ms. Bass yesterday evening and left her a message indicating that I needed further information for my post in order to clarify this point. I have not heard back from her yet. When and if I do, I will post her response.
Even if she did call, and was told not to plant, I am not sure that I am opposed to her having the garden. However, when I see an inconsistency like this it gives me pause to put my support completely behind Ms. Bass until I have the details confirmed.
My personal opinion is that I think she would have been better served to have just one or two vegetable gardens places in a more attractive arrangement on her front yard. However, there are lots of unattractive houses and things on front yards that I have seen in neighborhoods that I have lived in and driven through, and I don't think that it is the government's place to dictate how attractive one's front yard needs to be.
Whatever happened to just common sense and responsibility? Can't Julie Bass's neighbors tell her what they think? And isn't that enough?
If you are so inclined, you can click here to sign a petition to allow Ms. Bass to grow her vegetable garden. At the time of posting there were over 15,000 signatures and counting.
What do you think? A Ban on Front Yard Veggies or Hands Off Our Yards?