Front yard gardener wins over officials with petition

Mark recently wrote about a fantastic front yard veggie garden in Drummondville, Quebec, which local officials wanted destroyed. Alejandro De La Cruz writes to say that they've backed down: not only will the garden stay, but the town publicly announced that it will implement new guidelines which explicitly permit it.

Drummondville town officials announced the decision [Ed note: Link is in French] this week during a special session of the Municipal Council to discuss the case. The decision could create a ripple effect in other cities worldwide as zoning laws are a constant debate in urban environments. Roger told us, “The Drummondville case was one of the highest profile examples of a local municipality challenging the right to grow food in one’s own yard. While it took place in Canada, it quickly attracted international media attention because of the garden’s beauty and productivity. The win is significant because it helps establish a precedent that other urban and suburban gardeners can refer to when similar challenges arise in other parts of the world.”


  1. Good! Common sense (or more likely) “the world is watching” pressure prevailed.

    Now all they have to worry about are people helping themselves to the crop.

  2. Excellent news….for them, but also for everyone else who needed that first case to cite in fighting their own city halls.

  3. I looked through the comments in Mark’s original post and, though I might have overlooked it, was surprised to see no mention of the public’s right to access the land adjacent to the road. My elderly parents live next to a couple who have xenoscaped their entire front yard down to the curb. The neighbourhood is full of young kids. With no sidewalks (as above), try walking across “their” garden on the trek to school. Or let an errant ball jump the curb while playing street hockey. Or let your dog shit, even if you pick it up. Any one of these generates a confrontation and a call to the police. I’m all for better use of urban land and locally grown food. Just don’t write off neighbour concerns as being all about “maintaining that uniform green grass”. For all we know there is a back-story here that hasn’t been reported.

      1. I seriously doubt there is a sidewalk there, but I don’t know the address and can’t check. I take such things pretty serious too, but things are different all over, many places there are no sidewalks and no laws requiring them

      2.  Look at the photo in the original article, there’s a very straight paved path going right through the garden

        1.  i see several stone, gravel, and black top walk and drive ways in the picture, none of them keeping you from accessing anything. also, keep your dog from shitting in my garden please (wtf kinda asshole anyway…). and kids should be prepared to pay for whatever damgage they cause (even if its cause they lost their own ball… or broke a window, or messed up your garden patch – teaching them responsibility and all.

    1. Sidewalk/pavement are most often municipally governed in NA. Often small towns do not mandate them on every thoroughfare. At least big cities in Canada get it close to right.

      Down south there are sections of big city with no sidewalk at all, or patchwork sidewalk because it is left to the property owner to both decide if they want one, and pay to have it constructed, then it must be maintained as any liability problems are the owners, if it cracks and breaks your mothers back.

      edit – a quick glance at Drummondville via Google reveals no clear sidewalk pavement mandate, in 4 glances of 4 residential areas, 3 had only one side of the road had a sidewalk and one appeared to have none. These gardeners didn’t interrupt a sidewalk, most likely there isn’t one.

      1. They are probably gardening on city property though – at least here in Edmonton, there is a sizable chunk of city land between the street and (as on our side of the street) the sidewalk or (as on the other side of the street) the curb.  The property owner is responsible for basic maintenance and mowing, and for shovelling the sidewalk in winter.

        We’ve got flowerbeds outside of our fence, on the city land, and lots of people have hedges and such outside their property lines – you’ve just got to accept that the city can come and dig that land up if they need to for infrastructure maintenance.  I’m not honestly sure what limits there are to what you can and can’t grow on that land.  I wouldn’t be surprised if things that would impede getting a shovel in the ground would be off limits – like a raised garden bed.

        1. Street easements usually cover a large chunk of people’s front yards. Municipalities don’t generally object to planting trees, which are hell to remove. A few 10x2s aren’t nearly as difficult to deal with as a tree, in the unlikely event that the city decides to widen the street.

      2. Dropping in on streetview most of the older areas (judging by the houses) have sidewalks.  This is obviously a newer development which sadly means it’s more car friendly than pedestrian friendly. My grandfather lives in a similar development, but a bit older, where you have to walk in the street to go anywhere, it’s stupid.

        1. The street on which I grew up has no sidewalks. There’s a car maybe every ten minutes. Why waste money on sidewalks?

      1.  Exactly – try recovering a lost ball from an  alien-lizard-banana filled yard.  Fuggedaboutit.

      2. Xenoscaping might also be landscaping projects that you can never finish but only ever end up halfway to where you wanted to get each time you go to work on them.

        Honestly, I have a lot of Xenoprojects lying around come to think of it.

    2. I still don’t get it why one would need to use somebody else’s yard for that? If there is no pavement, you walk on the roadside, why would you walk in somebody’s yard? (Is this perhaps a cultural difference, I seriously don’t understand?) If you have a dog, it can very well shit on the road… I don’t care, not my problem… I don’t want dogs shitting on my yard. Or if the ball falls on my yard, the kids can come and ask if they can go pick it up (sure, go  right ahead, mind the plants!)… why would it need to define what I do or don’t do with my yard?

      1. Canadian cities generally have property lines well back from the curb – between the property line and the curb or sidewalk (if any) is land owned by the city, but that the adjoining property owner has to maintain (clean, mow the grass, shovel the snow), and isn’t allowed to block off – a sidewalk doesn’t need to be paved, for it to have to remain accessible.

        If you walk a few blocks down to the river, the river-front road has no paved walks on either side of the road, and lots of the richy-rich folks there have landscaped right down to the curb with trees or plants that shunt pedestrians to the other side of the street.  I’m sure it’s entirely against the city’s bylaws, but bylaws are for other people.

    3. The only back story is : the neighbors were picking vegetables and fruits from their garden. It was a garden open to everyone. No need to think about worst case scenarios where it’s a gated garden with someone with a shotgun protecting it. It’s working differently around here.

  4. If you look at the picture closely (or connect to the old story for a bigger picture), the sidewalk is still there (although there may be a concern with the wooden walls right next to it).  Actually the neighbor’s car is blocking the sidewalk. And anything in the space between the sidewalk and curb is in danger of destruction if there is ever a waterline break or if a utility has to bury cable or pipe there. 

      1. Cool you found the street. 

        Looks like the expectation is sane behaviour while driving and care taken by peds. Like people living together decently or something. At the 618 and again 369 addresses or thereabouts are movable basketball goals setup in the street facing the street. And if they play street one hoop b-ball in the summer there’s bound to be some serious street shinny in the winter.

        They are small town, so most everyone drives, but they put people first. How unlike so many they are.

  5. I’d be willing to wager a buck or two that la Ville de Drummondville was also concerned that the popular TV show “Fermier Urbain” (Urban Farmer), hosted by the genial Ricardo Larrivée,  and its audience, would be assaulting them.

    1. YEah, beautifully maintained and appointed gardens suck to look at. I prefer a patchwork of crabgrass, then a patch of average grass burned in the droughts, then the bright green of the asshole that ignores watering restrictions due to drought, then more crabgrass, then another average yard. And please, please make sure there are few to no trees messing up my view of the pretty lawns, eh?

      edit – and “in plain view”? wtf is that? Hide yo bean bushes, Hide yo tomatoes and Hide yo onions cause de mowin e’ry lawn out hear. You think gardens should be hidden from sight? What is that?

    2. That garden would feed me for most of the year.  I guess being that angry really burns up the calories.

      1. srsly, 8 kale plants will provide most of the greens a family of four needs for 9 months, especially considering the nutrient content. Too bland though, even with 3 varieties planted, gotta have all the other stuff too. We end up giving stuff away every year, certain crops overwhelm us, like cucumbers (pickled 15 jars for us, the rest for nearby relatives/peeps, total 45 jars, still had and have fresh cucumbers for summer eatin) and don’t even try to eat all yer squashes, you’ll have time for nothing else. Tomatoes, too many this year, jarring will be done over 3 weekends, will have plenty til next years come in, some frozen too. peas n beans galore. melons only gave us 6 this year, but a tasty waste of space.

        Ours is bigger than that lawn but not by all that much. People who think gardens can’t provide never heard the word victory in history class.

        1. So what you’re saying is one doesn’t need a garden that large? Then even the smallest backyard would be more than sufficient? Got it. I’m looking forward to seeing the Google Streetview of this house in two years. I’m sure that wood-to-soil contact and direct sun exposure will do wonders for the presentation.

          1. If it’s hard for you to believe that people maintain gardens when they are serious about their passion, consider your own hobby whatever it may be? 

            I’ve had more than a few nice cars, nice bikes and always managed to be sure they looked sweet when I had them. You think because you wouldn’t be interested in maintaining a garden it can’t be done?

          2. But you’re base presumption is correct Michael, size doesn’t matter, community plots no bigger than a grave can produce a goodly amount of produce, and they do. Now, gardening as a hobby is not specifically about yield, but I’m kind and presume you deduced or knew that.

        2. Sounds like your garden is about the size of my family’s and then, the one I planted with my partner: just a bit larger than the garden shown above. 

          Just thinking about canning and the great stuff we ate all year was making me wish for a larger footprint at my current house.

          I suppose I had it easier than most because my adopted family was right off the farm, but I remember hard work at points, maintenance which was relaxing and a lot of time off from our veggies and fruits and flowers. I also remember picking the best-tasting food all summer and early fall from the garden and whipping up a dinner made primarily of vegetables picked a half hour before. Superb. 

          And canning is just straight-up fun. Especially when you think you’ve perfected your kosher dill pickle recipe.  And eat them suckers 8 months later.

          I love this post. It’s got me psyched up for my fall planting.

    3. Just how far have you wandered from nature if a garden is an eyesore? Rows of cars in front of the house is apparently ok, but a garden isn’t? How about an apple tree, is that ok? Flowers? Bushes? Or just cars?

      1. Well, I live in Las Vegas, and for a lot of the (powertripping) HOAs here, desert landscaping is a big: “No-no” that will get you fined, liened, or possibly kicked out of your house. Same thing for sensible things like solar panels (we get 300 days of sun a year, and solar provides power when it’s MOST needed) or other water-saving or power-generating amenities, because it’s a friggen DESERT, but uniformity is more important… or something…


    1. You might be surprised, I’ve met some bureaucrats that seriously love their jobs restricting people and making sure they are all uniform. That’s great when it’s gas or hydro lines, but can suck for aesthetic stuff

    2. Seems obvious.  This is a newer suburban style development, which likely means more conservative/busy body neighbors. Many of the houses are somewhat plain and modest, but there’s also a lot of them that are verging on McMansion style. One thing is clear, they all have immaculate green lawns.

  6. What is this shit? A front yard is supposed to be high maintenance, resource sucking grass dosed liberally with herbicides that make amphibians and fish grow weird, ambiguous reproductive organs. You can buy food at the grocery store, for crying out loud!

    1. J’aurais jamais penser un jour que je lirais un article de Boing Boing à propos de Drummondville. Je suis natif de Drummondville et je ne peux malheureusement pas aller au festival de la poutine. Have fun! Tu me diras quelle poutine était la meilleur!

      1. Je connais déjà celle de La Banquise qui est FABULEUSE donc j’ai mon parti pris pour celle-là! Mais j’aime aussi celle de chez Ben, On Se Bourre La Bedaine de Granby donc la lutte pour la meilleure va être serrée!

  7. We have no front yard garden, but we did pick 7 varieties of fruit from the front yard this year.

  8. This is the difference between Canada/Australia and the USA. They are all pretty much fucked and overrun by petty tyrants, but there is at least a SLIVER of sanity in the commonwealth countries. A positive outcome like this is much less likely in batshit crazy Amerika.

    1. Well… from my view point, coming from a totally different country, that this ever was an issue looks to me as batshit crazy, sorry.

  9. Has any one heard of the doco ‘Lawn and Order’? It came out either in the late eighties or early nineties, was made in Canada and was all about this issue. Would love it if someone could point me towards a download.

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