Woman Faces Jail Time For Growing Veggies In Front Yard

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111 Responses to “Woman Faces Jail Time For Growing Veggies In Front Yard”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I wonder what her property taxes are like? I know that I pay a lot to be told what I can’t do with my land.

  2. Anonymous says:

    wow….this hurts my head.
    growing a garden is an eye sore?
    what is happening people?
    Why is growing grass that take so much water, pollutes the drain system with fetilizer, the gas needed to burn to keep mowed. Why is this Normal? This is not sustainable!!!

    People who would complain about another person growing vegtables in their yard are….weird.

  3. Anonymous says:

    As a planning commission in a smaller suburb of Denver, we just recommended that veggies and other non-grass plants be listed as acceptable landscaping options for this very reason. Why not encourage people to grow their own food, food for their neighbors and community, and to at least make all that water they pour into their front yards yield something more than the illusion that we live in a moist, temperate climate that would support bluegrass and fescue without irrigation?

  4. Palomino says:

    After all is said and done, I see noting wrong with her making her water worth more. Really, how is watering a lawn and paying for it putting food on her table?

    One thing I don’t understand, if she lives in a community with actual H.O.A rules and bylaws, then she must have known. So is the term “H.O.A” being tossed around loosely here?

    Some of these “laws” are archaic. I lived with my cousin for a year, she has a pretty nice condo. One of the H.O.A.s bylaws is “No Trucks are to be parked on the street, in driveways or parking pads before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. The “law” pertained to work vehicles, when that’s what trucks were. My truck was new and much more valuable than the mid 80′s rusty Chrysler Lebarons littering the driveways and carports. But my cousin (and by default, me) where find $75 three or four times, and that was just for unloading groceries at 9 p.m.!

    How many homes are foreclosed on in her area? I bet the city doesn’t go after the banks for allowing the lawns to brown.

    As a side note; it might be fun for her to study what plants are indigenous to her area and plant those and see what happens, I know “lawn” is not one of them.

  5. Benjamin says:

    We grow Romanesco Brocoli in our front yard. They make nice ornamental plants and they’re delicious. Best of both worlds!

  6. starbreiz says:

    It’s funny, I thought about this lady yesterday on my way home from Stanford. I was sitting in traffic in Menlo Park in my convertible, so I looked around, and saw a lovely house with raised beds in the front yard, surrounded by tiny pebbles. Then there was a see through fence, lined with flowers on the front. I’m an avid gardener, and the gardening community has been all over this. I hope she can find a lawyer who can make the HOA see common sense.

  7. Alex says:

    The pedant in the video says that he’s going by a definition of “suitable” as “common” from Webster’s Dictionary. However, Merriam-Webster online does not use that word, nor do either dictionaries referenced by dictionary.com.

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/suitable
    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/suitable

    Nor in the 1913 Webster’s
    http://machaut.uchicago.edu/?resource=Webster%27s&word=suitable&use1913=on&use1828=on

    Thesaurus.com offers dozens of synonyms for suitable, none of which is “common”. In 4 pages of synonyms for words similar to “suitable”, the word “common” only shows up one time, as a synonym for “good”.

    Man needs a new dictionary. Judge should throw out the case based on this alone, without even having to consider whether the yard is actually suitable.

    Pedantry: You’re doing it wrong.

  8. Anonymous says:

    If you do actually bother to look up the word “suitable” in a dictionary, it doesn’t actually say ‘common’. That chap was talking out of hi rectum.

    Anyway, I have veg in my front garden. The kids love it – and they need to understand this sort of thing because cheap supermarket food is killing the nation.

    World leaders – including crappy little town no-bodies really need to take a reality check.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Profit motive via privatized prisons. Those who stand to profit (town elders) will declare practically anything a jailible offense these days. Put don’t pretend the police were ever there to protect “people.” They never were Police serve to protect “the rich” and “their property.” You ever hear a cop tell a business to “move along” while a homeless person tries to get a much needed nap?

  10. Anonymous says:

    Welcome to America- land of the stupid busybodies. No real crime happening in this peaceful neighborhood- so lets hassle the person growing veggies in her front yard because we have nothing better to do. She should buy overpriced produce and mow the lawn like the rest of us and like it!

  11. adamnvillani says:

    I’ve long suspected that folks who pursue a job as a “City Planner” or similar just might have a touch of the busybody in their makeup.

    Like any other profession, there are good city planners and bad city planners. As a city planner myself, I can say with authority that Oak Park City Planner Kevin Rulkowski is a disgrace to the profession.

    • Donald Petersen says:

      Well said, sir. I certainly did not mean to tar you with my admittedly overly-broad brush. I do feel that if a person feels the urge to exert some control over the aesthetic standards of his or her neighborhood, he or she could do worse than get a City Planning gig. But by the same token, someone who wants to actually serve the needs of the community could do the same.

      I finally got around to actually watching the Fox News story above (at first I thought it was just a still, not a playable video), and it’s pretty funny. Rulkowski comes off as even more of a clueless busybody asshat when you see him talking, as does faceless Mrs. Cankles at 1:59.

      And really, Paool and ROSSINDETROIT? That’s what you’d consider a hideous eyesore of a vegetable garden? “Dirt, boards and wood chips.” The boxes are clean and new and well-constructed, the dirt is perfectly-appropriate potting soil, and the wood chips very tidily cover the spaces between the boxes, keeping dust and weeds down. It’s as neat a vegetable garden as I could hope to see. There is a complete absence of plastic toys, old cars, broken masonry, cobwebs, overgrown undergrowth (if such a thing is syntactically possible), dead grass, weeds, last week’s newspapers, dogturds, gopher holes, tree roots pushing up broken sidewalk pavers, rusting chain-link, squawking poultry, cinderblock anything, sun-bleached Slip-n-Slides, trash, tasteless statuary, mosquito-breeding birdbaths, bare dirt, construction debris, old toilets being used as flowerpots, pink flamingoes, last year’s Christmas lights, or any of the other neighborhood delights that depress property values.

      If this yard is the ugliest thing on the block, ugly enough to warrant anyone’s slightest admonition, then someone’s sensibilities are awfully, awfully delicate. “Soil? Ew!”

      • Palomino says:

        OR: “old flowerpots being used as toilets”. No really, I’ve seen it.

      • ROSSINDETROIT says:

        Since you asked, here‘s a stream of pix of my grassless front yard 1/4 mile from the Vegetable Crime.

        This is in the Flickr group Kill Your Lawn. I think Mark’s in there as well.
        If you like alternative front yards, join us!

  12. Anonymous says:

    This, in a country that reveres (among a few others) Jefferson as a kind of demi-god.

    Hasn’t any of them heard of the ideal of an agrarian society?

  13. wnoise says:

    If you want me to limit the use of my property to make your property values higher, there is always the Coasean solution: pay me, or buy my property.

  14. shadowfirebird says:

    Speaking as someone in the UK — where enforcement of rules against 30-foot leylandii bushes are only enforced sporadically — I have enough trouble believing that someone in the US can make you mow your own lawn. But this?

    I can’t shake the image of Jackbooted garden police hauling you away at midnight because your herbal border is half an inch too close to the street. America, land of the free.

  15. betatron says:

    1004 comments on the originating myfoxdetroit story. I predict the gardener will prevail.

  16. Anonymous says:

    “Yup, rules are rules, and stupid rules are stupid rules. Hopefully the town will be shamed into forcing its tin-pot tyrants to changing this one.”

    They’re growing tin-pot?!? That’s the worst pot there is!

  17. riotgirl007 says:

    A similar case in BC:
    “A man in Lanztville, British Columbia is facing a similar battle with the local government after converting his 2.5 acre “residential” lot from a gravel pit into a thriving organic farm. His refusal to “cease all agricultural activity” could land him six months in jail.”
    http://www.treehugger.com/files/2011/07/bc-man-faces-six-months-in-jail-for-growing-food.php

  18. Anonymous says:

    Defeat garden?

  19. Wallenstein says:

    How would this be different then me raising pigs on my residential lot to the inconvenience of my neighbours dealing with the noise and smell?

    Our neighbours recently starting keeping pigs. When I told my wife her reaction was the same: “But what about the noise and smell?”

    I told her, “Honey, we were here first so the pigs will just have to get used to it”.

  20. Stonewalker says:

    Most cities have similar ordinances. I know Sacramento does. They haven’t complained about my asparagus, tomatoes, spinach, artichoke or rosemary yet…

  21. Anonymous says:

    haha did you think you owned your own property?

  22. Donald Petersen says:

    This is great. Not that she’s busted for growing “unsuitable” or “uncommon” front-yard foliage, but that we’re hearing about it. The more noise, the better. Bad laws and governmental overreach (even on the puniest scale) deserve all the mocking mirth we can throw at them.

    Oak Park City Planner Kevin Rulkowski sez, “If you look at the definition of what suitable is in Webster’s dictionary, it will say common. So, if you look around and you look in any other community, what’s common to a front yard is a nice, grass yard with beautiful trees and bushes and flowers.”

    The man should perhaps get out more often and actually do what he recommends: “look in any other community.” Antinous, do you have many grass yards with beautiful trees and bushes and flowers out there in the Springs? Certainly there are plenty of gracious, attractive homes in my area with high “curb appeal” that happen to feature cactus gardens, or native plant species that wouldn’t qualify as lawns. Is it because we’re tasteless and trashy? Or because we live in a desert?

    At any rate, I’ve long suspected that folks who pursue a job as a “City Planner” or similar just might have a touch of the busybody in their makeup. Like the people who run Homeowners’ Associations in gated communities.

  23. Jake0748 says:

    The world, and particularly this country (the USA), keep getting stupider and stupider.

    I am so distraught and angry about this kind of bullshit, I’m afraid my fucking head might explode soon. Where do I sign up for the revolution?

  24. ROSSINDETROIT says:

    I wouldn’t say Oak Park is being particularly Fascist here, or that they have a history of that. In our adjacent town I just received a notice that putting your trash at the curb for pickup before the designated time could result in a significant fine. The timing is generous and fair, but if you break the rule it’s $50 out of pocket.
    Take a look at the picture. That front yard is mostly dirt, boards and wood chips. It would be different if there was very much growing there. To me, it’s unsightly. If it was my neighbor I’d be kinda pissed.

    • Nonentity says:

      “Take a look at the picture. That front yard is mostly dirt, boards and wood chips.”

      In one of the comments on the Consumerist, it’s mentioned that the yard had been dug up recently in order to repair city pipes. If that’s correct, it’s going to take a lot of time before it is much else no matter what’s done, unless someone puts up the money to put in the full lawn.

  25. Anonymous says:

    I am reminded of the couple somewhere in CA who replaced their lawn with drought tolerant plants. They had recently had a baby, and that got them to thinking about how much water is wasted on trying to maintain a lawn. The city went bonkers and after they started getting mocked for being so short sighted, they then reach an “agreement” that the couple… that agreement was to add a small percentage more of plants to meet the “requirements”.

    This really is a throwback to the idea, we’ve always done this and damn how anything changes we need lawns. How can you look at homes in Vegas and think it makes sense to waste water on a lawn that is sitting a fence away from a freaking desert?

    But there will always be enough water, there will always be enough food, there will always be enough clean air… until then there is not… and even then they still HAVE to have a green lawn.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Dear Town Elders’ of Oak Park,

    Please don’t do this. It gives humanity a bad name.

    Yours truly,
    Cassandra

  27. Anonymous says:

    Her yard looks like a “common” Portland, OR front yard where people grow anything and everything they can in their yards and in the strip between the sidewalk and the street. People allow strangers to use designated plots on their property to grow gardens and lessen the energy and environmental waste from mowing lawns. People are even known to leave out boxes of extra vegetables and organize exchanges so nothing goes to waste. I have lived here long enough that I have forgotten that it really is progressive here. I am deeply saddened for her, but darn proud she hasn’t caved in. That takes true courage.

  28. ROSSINDETROIT says:

    I thought that looked familiar. It’s 1/4 mi from my house, across Coolidge road. I should drive by and see how they’re coming.
    When we moved here I was warned not to ride my motorcycle through Oak Park at night. Apparently there are blackout hours where 2-wheelers are prohibited.
    It’s an unusual community. Formerly 100% white and majority Jewish, it’s now 52% African American. Lots of synagogues and Jewish Cultural Centers. And an awesome 50 year old Jewish bakery.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Fight them. This is ridiculous, if I live there I would get all the neighbors to start one so it would be “COMMON”.

  30. ROSSINDETROIT says:

    BTW, here on the other side of Coolidge I replaced the front yard with conifers and ground cover. Nobody said a word. What’s the problem, Oak Park?

  31. Stonewalker says:

    Related.. http://www.naturalnews.com/032476_rabbits_USDA.html

    “USDA fines family up to four million dollars for selling bunny rabbits”

    The USDA is interested in protecting capitalist/fascist government monopoly on food. We are not free.

    • Nick15 says:

      You do realize that NO ONE is TRULY free? That is, true and perfect freedom does NOT exist?

      BTW, I can’t seem to find any other sources about that story about the USDA fining a family $4 million for selling rabbits, at least outside of the regular circle of bloggers and fringe news sources. That is to say, I can’t find any REAL news outlets reporting about it, and by “REAL” I mean LOCAL news sources.

      Just sayin’…

      • quicksand says:

        You do realize that NO ONE is TRULY free? That is, true and perfect freedom does NOT exist?

        Oh okay, then, since freedom doesn’t exist, let’s just all bend over while the neighbourhood fascists screw us.

        • Ugly Canuck says:

          Freedom’s opposite is slavery.

          We ARE ALL FREE (as slavery has been abolished in North America!) and so is this person presently charged with the offense of growing veg where the laws decree that she ought not, and for which offense she is at risk of losing her liberty.

          BUT we are NOT at liberty to do whatever we please, whenever and wherever we wish.

          Even little children know the truth of that statement!

  32. davidasposted says:

    I hope the prosecutor does not use the same argument as that city councilor: according to Webster’s Dictionary, the word ‘suitable’ does not mean ‘common’:

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/suitable?show=0&t=1310517323

  33. urpBurp says:

    Technically she faces jail time for not obeying the authority. They didn’t threaten jail until she wouldn’t comply…

    And “common” sense should tell these town leaders that a garden in the yard is fine and proper. What a small-minded view of what’s OK to grow in your yard.

    Are they afraid of bringing property values down in the Detroit area?

  34. Neon Tooth says:

    From the article:

    All the neighbors in her area should show their support and start their own gardens in their front yards.

    I read another local news article on this the other day, and it was in fact her neighbors who called the city to complain.

  35. marc anthony says:

    Many plants bear some form of fruit. What makes things like pine trees, sunflowers, cactus, etc.—all of which produce edibles—acceptable but not vegetables? This is plant racism.

  36. huskerdont says:

    I’ve lived in places before where I’d get dirty looks for growing veggies in the front yard (because the back yard was too shaded), but no one has ever called the law down on me. With all the shit going on in the world, what kind of busybody busts someone for growing veggies?

    But this publicity is good. It just shows these idiots for what they are.

    • Ugly Canuck says:

      True – these things are local, and much depends on the feelings of the people who live in and share her neighbourhood.

      That’s the way it is in democracies, usually.

  37. ndmlosi says:

    davidasposted, seconded

    From Merriam-Webster:

    Suitable
    2 a: adapted to a use or purpose

    From New Oxford American:

    Suitable
    right or appropriate for a particular person, purpose, or situation

  38. Anonymous says:

    According to the originating story, which comes from FOX, one of her neighbors complained. It’s that simple. He thinks crops belong in the backyard, if he has anything to say about it.

    Cities take people’s word about this sort of thing.

    I bet no city official has even passed by.

    If she fights it, given how neat it is, she wins. And her busybody neighbor has to look at unsightly zucchini out his front door.

  39. gadgetgirl says:

    Sooooo… if she planted something that was considered “front yard” but was also edible, like an organic rose bush or a lavender bush, or pansies, and then ate them, would she still be charged?

    And what about my old neighbours who planted clover instead of grass because it stayed greener and never needed mowing? Is “much better” not the same as “suitable”? I suspect it isn’t, but they had a beautiful lawn.

  40. ROSSINDETROIT says:

    I have a big patch of Prickly Pear cactus in front of my house. Yes, in MI, and it’s frighteningly healthy. I doubt this could be called suitable by any standard.

  41. Anonymous says:

    Put the town “elders” (rather antiquated phrase isn’t it) in stocks in the town square and plant some bean stalks to grow up their asses.

  42. Anonymous says:

    At least she’s under city jurisdiction, where there’s some kind of recourse, rather than a private-government HOA situation.

  43. ZippySpincycle says:

    Still, rules are rules. If this woman is not soundly punished for her disgusting nonconformity, we’ll soon have a total breakdown of law and order. Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!

  44. Anonymous says:

    BUT we are NOT at liberty to do whatever we please, whenever and wherever we wish.

    Even little children know the truth of that statement!

  45. Palomino says:

    I don’t know if its true today, but people in China are forbidden to have private (the government define this as “secret”) gardens.

    Anybody care to confirm?

    • professor says:

      I think this is another of those “China must really suck because…” rumors. Lots of people have their own vegetable gardens, and have done for at least the last 20 years or so (that I’ve been watching)

  46. David says:

    If you think fascism always takes place elsewhere you have never dealt a “Homeowners’s Association” or a “Condominium Association.” Last refuge of wing nuts and anal dominants.

  47. g0d5m15t4k3 says:

    I was telling my mom I was going to plant a herb garden in my front yard where there are currently some ugly-ass shrubs. She said I couldn’t do that, but it sounded like it was just a faux pas. I didn’t know it was illegal!

    -From Ohio

  48. Deidzoeb says:

    Please put them in the same prison with those Food Not Bomb criminals who illegally fed homeless ppl, so I can break them all out at once. When food is outlawed, only outlaws will feed! You’ll take my mulberries when you pry them from my juicy, purple fingers!

  49. futnuh says:

    My parents live next door to a crazy couple who did something similar with their front lawn. The problems began when neighbourhood kids started getting threatened by the couple if a ball went onto the plot. This apparently isn’t the case here – the news stories report neighbourhood kids helping out with garden and only one crusty neighbour coming forward with a complaint.

    • PaddyO says:

      Palomino, thanks for the thanks! Sad it didn’t get picked up this weekend, but glad it’s finally getting some more publicity.

  50. IronEdithKidd says:

    Oak Park City Planner Kevin Rulkowski needs to take a little field trip to Washtenaw County where front yard veg is exceedingly common in the cities of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti.

  51. technogeek says:

    Sigh. Good illustration of why you want to know ALL the regulations, restrictive covenants, etc. before putting your money down. And why you may sometimes want to consider running for a town office, or the condo board, or whoever else is responsible for dealing with such nonsense — if you don’t, your meddling neighbor may, so it can be a matter of self-defense.

    Also, when touring the neighborhood, if all the houses look like they’re perfectly kept up and maintained exactly the same way that should be a red flag that some such rules are in force. Fine if you want to live that way, not so good if you think you might want more freedom.

    Me? I live in a neighborhood of older houses in mixed condition maintained to mixed standards, and that’s Just Fine. The worst are good enough that they don’t endanger others or pull my property’s value down, and that’s all I care about. My greenery is reasonably neat, reasonably healthy, low-cost and chemical-free so I can gather edibles at will.

    (I do in fact have a gardener, but she understands that as long as everything is healthy and happy, that’s all I care about. If a plant can’t survive mostly being treated with benign neglect I don’t need it in my yard; if a volunteer is attractive and not crowding out other things, I don’t care that it’s technically a weed. And violets are perfectly acceptable ground cover; they and the grass can reach their own equilibrium.)

  52. legionabstract says:

    It can be tricky dealing with neighbours for things like this. We used to live opposite a family who had their own landscaping business. They had a lot of equipment and trucks and things that they were always moving in and out of their driveway and parking it on the street and using our driveway to turn around in. It didn’t bother us, but it must have bothered somebody, because a couple of times they came to us and said that the city had told them that there had been complaints from neighbours, and wanted to know if there was anything they could do to work this out.

    We told them that we didn’t have a problem with what they were doing and they could use our driveway anytime they wanted, but we could tell that they didn’t really believe us. Because they had gone to all the other neighbours too, and they all said the same thing. But there had been complaints. So somebody was lying to them, and as far as they knew it could have been us just as much as any of the other neighbours, so what were they supposed to do?

  53. travtastic says:

    I’m going to have to side with the neighbor on this one. First gardens, then pinkos moving in next door, then gay marriage.

    It all seems so innocent until you’re getting into your car to go to work and you see asparagus leering at you from across the street.

  54. Rollic says:

    The Oak Park City Government is already trying to cover their asses.

    http://www.freep.com/article/20110712/NEWS03/107120363/Facebook-pages-fight-Oak-Park-veggie-garden

    The mayor is now claiming that “no one will go to jail”, but he’s also claiming that the woman’s lawyer is wrongfully inflating the issue because it’s an election year and the lawyer supports another candidate for mayor. Which is ridiculous.

    Now the city is saying “maybe we should change the ordinance”, but they’re strangely no backing down about going after the woman who planted the garden (albeit without the threat of jail time, apparently).

    I live a few blocks away from the garden and it’s so small and so well-kept that this whole argument is completely ridiculous. OH, and, apparently, the Colbert Report just filmed a bit at her house a few days ago, so more hilarity to come soon.

  55. Anonymous says:

    I watched some show about Al Qaeda, and the guy who started it, and he lived here in the US for some time, and part of what he hated so much about our culture that stuck with me is the ridiculous amount of time people spent on making their lawns look good.

    I am a born and raised citizen of the US, but I agree that there is nothing more ridiculous than spending time and spending money on chemicals to make your lawn look that fake green color, and mowing the yard to get that crisscross pattern.

    There are so many more important things going on in this country: term limits, fracking, banking industry getting away with our tax money, SS cuts, etc., etc., anyone?

  56. Tdawwg says:

    There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray,
    love, remember: and there is pansies, that’s for frivolous litigation.

  57. Tau'ma says:

    I can see the day coming when even your home garden is gonna be against the law. –Bob Dylan ♫♪ Union Sundown ♪♫

  58. Iscah says:

    An article I read about it elsewhere (http://abcnews.go.com/US/vegetable-garden-brings-criminal-charges-oak-park-michigan/story?id=14047214 WARNING, plays video) included this quote: An Oak Park city councilman allegedly received two complaints about the garden resembling a “New Orleans cemetery.” This baffles me – it looks like a vegetable garden to me. What do New Orleans cemeteries look like? I suspect this is a comment with racist overtones, but I don’t really know what they mean. Anyone?

  59. Tdawwg says:

    It’s worth pointing out that an archaic meaning for suitable is “Capable of being sued, liable to be sued; legally subject to civil process.” So those would indeed be eminently suitable plants.

  60. Anonymous says:

    she’s obviously put it there as a formidable zombie defence. needs more spuds.

  61. tkahvesi says:

    Check out the work of landscape architect/artist Fritz Haeg:
    http://www.fritzhaeg.com/garden/initiatives/edibleestates/nyc-suburbs.html

    Planting a garden in the front of your suburban lawn as political gesture and art installation. All it takes is context!

  62. Unmutual says:

    Think you “own” property in America?

    Think again!

    If I had a front yard, I’d have my garden out there in solidarity with her. It’s a container garden so I can move it wherever I want ;)

  63. Anonymous says:

    Private ‘neighborhood associations’ are just as bad. Its not the government that is the problem, but rather the problem is the existence of those whom William Burroughs would perceptively categorize as ‘the shits’ (vs. the johnsons).

  64. Tarliman says:

    Speaking as a farmer, I’d like to know where the Oak Park city planner lives, so that I can dump a truckload of fresh manure on his front lawn. It could use the fertilizer, and like calls to like.

  65. TombKing says:

    New Orleans cemeteries look like a bunch of small marble houses or tombs rather than graves as the water table is so high you can’t bury anyone so you have this http://www.city-data.com/picfilesc/picc32361.php which is fun for midnight tours. However if the above is the offending house no it does not look like a New Orleans cemetery just a raised bed garden in the front of a house.

  66. Tarliman says:

    FWIW, I sent the following e-mail to krulkowski@ci.oak-park.mi.us:

    An article on your inhuman, callous, and moronic treatment of Julie Bass made the front page of Boing Boing, one of the most widely read blogs in the English-speaking world. You can see the article at http://www.boingboing.net/2011/07/12/woman-faces-jail-tim.html. Congratulations, you’re now a laughing stock on the global level. Kindly do us all a favor and resign, and find new work shoveling manure on a farm, where you might gain a glimmer of understanding into why food production on a personal level is more important than kowtowing to petty authority and conforming to arbitrary and senseless standards.

  67. Paool says:

    I hate when neighborhood groups or city ordinances tell what you can/cannot do with your own property. On the flip side, that is ugly as hell. I’d be pissed to live next door to that if I kept my yard green and lively. I wouldn’t sick the city on them, but I would ask ‘can’t you move it to the backyard?’

    Any case, another example of why it’s better to live in the country like me.

  68. awfl says:

    Is the concept of society so difficult? When you *choose* to live close to others, where there established customs, norms, laws, where you can impact others, you give up some rights and gain others. Like enhanced home values and closeness to jobs and community. There are customs that have been developed over many years *for a reason*. If you wish to change them, do so politely and with agreement of the other stakeholders. If you can’t or are can’t be bothered, then the onus is on you to go elsewhere, not selfishly impose your will on everyone; those that may agreed in the existing rules or may have invested heavily based upon them (Look! what a pretty neighborhood! Manicured grassy lawns!). BTW, I like gardens but I would not like to lose >$10k because a neighbor decides to exercise their “creativity”. And the slippery slope comes to mind.

    • travtastic says:

      And the slippery slope comes to mind.

      It absolutely does. As a ridiculous argument to make in most situations. This is one of them.

  69. Lyle Hopwood says:

    I looked up “suitable” in Webster’s Third, which unlike the Internet is NOT surprisingly light, and the first definition is – hell, can’t drag it under the spotlight it’s too big – uh,

    1 Obsolete: matching or correspondent (as in character, condition or kind), LIKE, SIMILAR.

    So as long as the lawyer is using only the obsolete part of the first definition in Webster’s Third, I guess he’ll win. The other definitions sadly favor the scofflaw criminal vegetable-grower.

  70. Anonymous says:

    My neighbor had a large garden in her front yard. My task was to water it when she left town.

    She had a harvest moon dinner. Nothing like fresh salad and corn picked minutes before eating. The corn… the corn…

    The city’s response? Crickets. The neighbors response? They would drop by and see how it was doing.

    Modesto, CA.

  71. t00mer says:

    I could see this sort of lefty non-conformist nonsense happening in Royal Oak, or Ferndale maybe, but this is Oak Park! People have to walk past this monstrosity on the way to their synagogue, or school. Its bad enough the Zoo is just around the corner, attracting undesirable elements from all over the place, but this?

    Thank goodness Oak Park Police are doing their part in the thankless job of protecting us from these vegetable terrorists. If this woman was allowed to get away with her shenanigans…what next? Fruit trees along Coolidge? Ornamental cabbages and allium along the I-696 service drive!? Somebody has to draw a line, and we are all lucky the Oak Park PD is there!

  72. thatbob says:

    One of the “rules are rules” crowd here, but I’m chiming in in defense of the garden owner. Reading the rule that they cite, the garden she’s growing just isn’t against it. Their whole case hangs only on the subjective interpretation of what’s “suitable,” and no judge worth her salt is going to both (a) allow that rule to stand as it is and (b) accept their interpretation of it.

    • Anonymous says:

      civil disobedience. i’m generally a rules is rules type, too, unless the rules is stupid. this rule is stupid. the neighbour needs something to occupy his/her time so he/she doesn’t notice the garden.

  73. blendergasket says:

    This woman is a food terrorist.

  74. regeya says:

    This is one of those things that always makes me scratch my head. Why on earth is a relatively tidy garden a bad thing? Not to belittle the woman, but it doesn’t exactly look like she’s one of the Clampetts, planting a turnip patch on the front lawn of her McMansion.

    Awfl, I’d like to agree with you wholeheartedly, but we live in a world where local governments and HOAs have gotten to the point where you have exactly three color choices for your home, one color choice for your mailbox, you must have grass and only grass in your yard, grass height limits on yards that are so ludicrous that sometimes make it illegal to set your lawnmower deck to a higher position, and at times make it illegal to use a mulching mower, a limited choice of ornamental plants in flower beds, and you may not use your driveway to park your car on your property.

    I’m all for preventing people from leaving old tires in their yard (health hazard) and from leaving old pickups on blocks in the driveway (unsightly, safety hazard) but all these rules and laws on aesthetics…come on.

    I can honestly say that I chose to live in a more rural area so I could have things like a vegetable garden. Like the subject of this story, I have a raised-bed garden. My property isn’t the best-kept property ever, but it’s hardly the worst. The bank hasn’t complained about my level of upkeep yet, so I won’t get in a panic yet. And there are times when perhaps the money is a bit tight (how are those gas and grocery prices, everybody?) and you might not want to hire a lawn service to treat your yard. Wouldn’t it be nice to have that choice?

    Land of the free, home of the brave…

  75. drukqs says:

    The Canadian Centre for Architecture had an exhibit back in ’98 called the American Lawn (http://www.cca.qc.ca/en/exhibitions/85-the-american-lawn-surface-of-everyday-life) that was really excellent. Some other comments remarked on the conformist aspect of it, which I think is spot on. Indeed, the subdivision I grew up in had strict building codes, right down to requiring cedar shakes on the roof.

  76. Victor Drath says:

    If I lived in this area I’d plant my whole yard with sweet corn to show my support. I’d also put a large cutout sign of a hand flippin the middle finger right in front.

    Variety is beautiful, leave people alone. This is as asinine as that deal in Orlando. Go find a real crime, losers.

  77. Anonymous says:

    We have to report this kind of thing to the authorities, people. If you see something, say something. Because if you don’t, then the tomatoists have already won.

  78. ROSSINDETROIT says:

    “what next? Fruit trees along Coolidge?”

    I live on Coolidge. It’s too late. They’re beautiful in the spring.

  79. Anonymous says:

    In the Lantville situation that the first poster discuesses:

    1). It is not illegal to grow produce for yourself, per the zoning the Lantzville guy is under. It is illegal to produce food for a commercial venture though, which is what he is doing.

    2). He bought the property knowing what the zoning was. If the neighbour nextdoor wanted to flaunt zoning laws would all be in agreement as well?

    3). The town of Lantville offered the ‘farmer’ a temporary permit while they reviewed his situation. The ‘farmer’ refused to apply for one.

    4). How would this be different then me raising pigs on my residential lot to the inconvenience of my neighbours dealing with the noise and smell? Commercial ventures are quite often an inconvenience to the neighbours and need to be zoned for a reason.

    • Anonymous says:

      1). It is not illegal to grow produce for yourself, per the zoning the Lantzville guy is under. It is illegal to produce food for a commercial venture though, which is what he is doing.

      Fair enough

      2). He bought the property knowing what the zoning was. If the neighbour nextdoor wanted to flaunt zoning laws would all be in agreement as well?

      The zoning rules clearly say “No Jews” so you knew that when you moved in, Shlomo.

      I’d think you’d side on more freedom for folks, not less. And in this case your rights aren’t being affected by their garden in any real way.

      3). The town of Lantville offered the ‘farmer’ a temporary permit while they reviewed his situation. The ‘farmer’ refused to apply for one.

      Maybe accepting a permit wouldn’t forced them to accept a certain status? (e.g. “I will destroy my garden at the end of this permit if it isn’t renewed”).

      4). How would this be different then me raising pigs on my residential lot to the inconvenience of my neighbours dealing with the noise and smell? Commercial ventures are quite often an inconvenience to the neighbours and need to be zoned for a reason.

      If you are equating growing tomatoes with raising pigs I suggest you go visit an actual farm.

  80. tincansongbird says:

    So there’s one old broad who hates the garden and wants to make trouble for this other lady. That’s really what this comes down to, doesn’t it? Just some vicious old bitch who hates everything?

    Maybe the rest of the neighborhood ought to take up a petition to launch a state-level investigation into why the city is spending taxpayer money to harass a resident about her well-maintained vegetable garden. That kind of attention can motivate city officials to wake up and stop pursuing silly cases like this.

  81. Gulliver says:

    Yup, rules are rules, and stupid rules are stupid rules. Hopefully the town will be shamed into forcing its tin-pot tyrants to changing this one.

    Forty seven comments and not one grapes of wrath joke. What is BB coming to…

    • tincansongbird says:

      Forty seven comments and not one grapes of wrath joke. What is BB coming to…

      You’re right, Gulliver. We should just parrot referential claptrap at each other instead of actually communicating. Here, I’ll have a go at it: Shaka, when the walls fell.

      • Gulliver says:

        We should just parrot referential claptrap at each other instead of actually communicating.

        Can’t we have both?

  82. sdmikev says:

    Wow, whomever complained about this lady would certainly not like my neighborhood. There are a LOT of people (myself included, though admittedly it’s tough to see mine) have vegetable garden patches in their yard. One lady has chickens in her fenced front yard. And I live in the city..
    Hopefully the idiots will be humiliated into realizing how wrong they are in this case..

  83. Anonymous says:

    Everyone on the block should plant a garden in the front yard, then it would be common, and therefore suitable…

  84. clea says:

    I also live within a mile of this home. Even if Oak Park revises this code, they have many other antiquated, goofy policies they need to look at. It is illegal to repair your own car on your own property in that city. Even in your garage. Of course, like communities everywhere, they lack to resources to actually check and enforce this, so they rely on some neigbors with an axe to grind.
    And, @ Paool, it was the city that tore up the lawn in the first place, which prompted the construction of the raised beds. If they’d put new grass seed on the lawn in summer in Michigan, it would look just as bad, but flat.

  85. Anonymous says:

    Our food supply is a major terrorist target.

    Domestic food production keeps America safe.

    Anybody that opposes domestic food production is giving Aid and Comfort to the Enemy in time of war.

    Maybe the city council members are enemy agents?

  86. Anonymous says:

    Ok, someone needs to say it, “But what about my property values!?”

    If it wasn’t for enforcing petty rules how would we protect our freedom?

    • Gulliver says:

      @ Anon #55

      Ok, someone needs to say it, “But what about my property values!?”

      Well, you see, when someone ruins the value of your home, you give them hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer money. Cause, I mean, what else can you do, right?

      Well manicured vegetable gardens are really dragging down the housing market these days, eh?

      If it wasn’t for enforcing petty rules how would we protect our freedom?

      I think mailboxes are fugly. We need petty rules banning mailboxes to protect my property values.

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        I don’t understand the neighbors complaining about her raised beds when she’s got a dozen mismatched pieces of furniture in her front yard.

        • Gulliver says:

          I don’t understand the neighbors complaining about her raised beds when she’s got a dozen mismatched pieces of furniture in her front yard.

          I’d be particularly wary of the upholstered swing seat in the eaves’ rain penumbra.

          Also, I love how the lone busybody in the neighborhood lacks the courage to show her face on camera.

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