Therein lies the problem: Local laws infringe on urban homesteading

garden

Within many communities throughout the country, there is a large and growing movement of sorts in which people, families and businesses are opting to procure and enjoy a more locally-based food and goods sourcing initiative.

Whether it be from small family-owned farms, community co-ops and farmers’ markets or home based vegetable and fruit gardens, people are increasingly looking for a more sustainable and beneficial means to feed themselves and their families while taking ownership of one of the most basic and fundamental necessities in life: food.

And really, why not? Why should a person be expected (forced) to pay for food shipped from other countries when they can – with some home-grown hard work and self administered know-how – plant and raise their own sources of diverse and seasonally-specific food?

Why should we allow ourselves to be subjected to some of the horrors surrounding modern food production where profits and production have superseded health and prosperity for most consumers?

Bacterial outbreaks, carcinogenic pesticides, factory farms, gross misconduct and mistreatment of both workers and animals pervade our food-sourcing beneath our noses while the majority of the country blindly (yet all-too-often knowingly) accepts each as necessary misdeeds.

Yet, with the right knowledge, some gratifying legwork and even the smallest plot of land, large portions of citizens can make a difference by contributing to their own personal sustainability in a fun and healthy way.

But with most good things, opposition is abound – and it seems that superficiality is often the culprit.

As reported in Grist this past summer, Michigan woman Julie Bass faced serious jail time for simply replacing her useless lawn with a vegetable garden. Her crime? Non-conformity.

“After her front yard got dug up for sewer line maintenance, Julie Bass decided to put in raised vegetable beds instead of reseeding the lawn. It was awesome – the neighborhood kids helped out, everyone got to see where their food came from, the Bass family got fresh cheap produce.”

Oh, the horror.

Turns out, someone in her neighborhood wasn’t too fond of her gardening antics. So, they tattled to city ordinance – which has specific rules as to what constitutes a suitable, uniform front lawn – and Bass was slapped with a fine which, if she instead chooses to go to trial, can be raised to up to 93 days in jail.

For planting a vegetable garden. On her own lawn.

More recently, a Memphis, Tennessee man “received a citation last week for the ‘nuisance’ caused by the raised vegetable beds and sunflower plants” in his OWN yard.

Adam Guerrero, a high school math teacher, reportedly “uses the garden to pass his urban farming expertise on to local youth.”

Guerrero has, this year alone, tutored the after-school group on how to make biodiesel fuel, harvest honey, compost, and install solar power.

There are literally dozens of cases like this across the country where honest, hard-working people trying to make a positive difference in their own lives as well as the lives of those around them are getting slapped down by their community’s skewed sense of priorities that places aesthetic uniformity over needful resources.

And why? Have we become a country so self-involved with our own efforts of “keeping up with the Joneses” that we cannot imagine thinking anywhere close to “outside the box” to make our lives more purposeful?

Had Bass opted to instead install a swing set sprawled across paving stones overlaid across what was once a useful plot of earth, would she have met such resistance? If Guerrero didn’t open up his property to local, urban youth for a learning exercise and instead leveled it into a makeshift football field for the local men’s league, would he still have received the court order to remove the “debris and personal property” that made up his veritable urban farm?

Why are we so enthralled by the sheer size of homes, land and belongings yet do almost nothing with them?

Are 2+ acres really necessary if used for nothing more than a privacy barrier? Are 3+ car garages really necessary, if only to be filled with more useless belongings while our perpetually-shined, leased SUVs sit idle on the pavement out front?

Do your kids really need a fucking trampoline? Or has THAT become a necessity in and of itself to offset their obesity-laden asses spreading out across our imported-leather couches while catching up on Jersey Shore and American Idol, sucking down whatever high fructose-injected triple-processed factory concoctions we currently regard as “food?”

We have become a nation made up largely of those looking to take as little responsibility over their own well being and that of their community as possible, even with what little community there is left thanks to sprawling strip malls scarred with freeways. It has become the norm to place value in the worthless while expecting immediate, low cost delivery of necessary goods and services – like food – to be ushered to our doors and down our throats on a whim.

Were we not once a country founded by those willing to commit self-sacrifice for a better, more self-sufficient life in which goodwill and determination is greeted and rewarded with respect, not disdain?

Where the hell is that Tea Party rally?

  • http://www.facebook.com/chefonfire911 Tom Morrison

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-enGOMQgdvg&feature=player_detailpage
      Here is an amusing peice from the same area about Turf Grass the worst carbon sink ever.
    I support of Julie & Company. My wife is from that neighborhood. So we’ve been watching it all happen.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chefonfire911 Tom Morrison

    Yea Joe it is a shame to see how ignorant we have become about our rights and our land. Coke sells us our own water at 1900% profit! Her is my local water. We can’t even water our grass here..

    Mr. Morrison

    I am the Director of Public Works and Utilities

    We would be happy to give you a tour of our facility

    If statistics are right average water consumed in bottle in US
    is 28.3 gallons

    This Equates to

    16.9oz/bottle

    Convenience Store average 1.19 =$4310.00

    Bulk buy average .35 = $1267.00

    City of Griffin .017 = 62.00

    If your rent was $750 month you could pay 5.75 months of rent

    Or if you house payment is $1200 month you could pay 3.6 months
    of payment. One could reduce length of note by 6 years over a 30 year period

    JUST some food for thought

    Remember water suppliers in public systems have to jump through
    a lot more hoops than in the un regulated industry of bottled water

    Brant D. Keller PhD

    City of Griffin

    Director Public Works & Utilities