Video of an illegal vegetable gardener

[Video Link] Todd Bieber (the fellow who made that video about the snapping turtle that tries to bite a guy that looks like Will Ferrel) says, "I planted this illegal vegetable garden in Brooklyn and documented the experience."


  1. There are a lot of good reasons not to just grab a seemingly abandoned parcel and start urban gardening. Elevated Lead, Cadmium, and other heavy metals in many urban soils make this inadvisable without some research, and potentially some analysis. Send a box of that soil off to your State Agricultural Extention Lab (or equivalent) first!

  2. Oh, yeah. Tomatoes, peppers, that’s how it always starts. Then later there’s running and screaming.

  3. Isn’t he also that missing-film-canister guy? Or is that so obvious that it didn’t need mentioning, and I just made an anonymous fool of myself?

  4. Just like Mdhatter said, the biggest problem is soil quality. Chemicals, runoff from the street, heavy metals, and god knows what else would make its way into the fruit & vegetables being grown. And possibly eaten.

    I’m all for gung-ho gardening, but doesn’t seem responsible doing it without checking out the soil.

    1. what’s worse for you, a possibly toxic but delicious tomato or an order of burgers and fries?

      no really, it’s not a joke, I’m asking…

      1. Um, neither?  You know that you can buy fruits and veggies with a pretty minimal amount of toxins (at least compared to growing it in city soil).   I am all for urban gardening, but you really do need to test that stuff.  Where I live (Boston), I had my soil tested and found it to be off the chart for lead… literally.  They had a standard chart and it went off of it.  The soil was so badly contaminated for lead that they suggested I plant nothing edible, wear gloves, a face mask, no exposed skin, and take a shower after I was done.

        Soil testing isn’t that expensive.  If you want to plant in a city, test the soil.  If the soil is toxic, you can still plant, you are just going to have to bring in  your own soil and contain it in a raised bed.  If the soil is only mildly toxic, you can plant things that are less inclined to soak up the nasties.  

        Heavy metal poisoning, even at low levels, isn’t a brilliant idea.  You should take common sense steps to avoid it.  I applaud urban gardening, but be safe about it.

  5. So, is that something that you worry about because it’s an abandoned lot?  Or is it the kind of thing where if you start renting a house, and plan to put some veggies in the back yard, then you should get that tested as well?

    1. If you’re in an urban area, definitely check the soil. Before gas/oil/electric heat there was coal heat, and all that ash went in the backyards most places. Also, flakes from lead painted houses. My first comment at the top will give you some places to get looking. Cou can often get very inexpensive (subsidized by your tax dollars) soil testing done for your plot, and whatever lab is doing it will have instructions for you.

      Often, yes, fenced lots in cities are fenced for a reason.

      1. There is a lot of stuff in the ground.  Old flame retardants are horribly carcinogenicity.  If you live in a city that is more than 50 years old, lead paint is on freaking everything.  Where I live (Boston), the soil is extremely contaminated with lead due to the very long history of old houses and dense urban living.  It isn’t like when they scarp the lead paint off they neatly pick it up.  It all goes into the ground.

        I mean hell, it is up to you.  Just be kind and don’t share your food with anyone without a big ol’ disclosure that you have no fucking clue what they are eating.  If you want to risk heavy metal exposure to eat a few urban veggies, it is your health, more power to you… but I would just suggest you take some basic precautions.  I can’t speak for other cities, but in Boston, Boston University will do soil samples for those looking to planting basically at cost.

    2. What mdhatter03 said.  You should worry about it even if you are planting in your own back yard because stuff in the environment (like lead from house paint) can get into the soil.  

      Getting it tested is easy.  UMass Amherst has a soil testing lab that serves the public.  You mail them a sample and they mail you a report.   Here is a link:

  6. I planted this illegal vegetable garden in Brooklyn and documented the experience.

    Thank God someone is finally documenting the Brooklyn experience!

    But seriously — good on this cat.

  7. DO urban gardening. Do it. Take back the oldest right/ pastime/ job/ hobby, the ability to feed yourself. Make the city a more beautiful place at the same time.

    Just put a landscape fabric down and some good clean soil on top first to avoid toxics in the city dirt.

  8. Lemon squash… are you sure? Perhaps a lemon cucumber. Anyhow, nice project. More urban garedners need to follow suit! 

  9. This is very cute but I hope this guy realises that vegetables grown so close to the road will be contaminated with dangerous levels of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons [PAHs] and metals such as lead. I certainly wouldn’t feed my 18mo daughter any of his produce.

  10. Time now to step up to the plate Obama! Make it a law, that anybody creating “Real Wealth” planting gardens, raising chickens, rabbits, fish, or any animals for food, cannot be stopped! Save America! Plant Edibles in Gardens! Turn lawns into potato fields! The last frontier! America cannot manufacture for less than Asians! They can so feed themselves! Obama! Do something no other President has done! Set your people free form the Corporate, and civil shackles that bind them! Allow them to grow food! no other nation is so imprisoned! Eurasians laugh at you! Will Eat you alive one day!

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