why would any town ban front gardens?

blaketayloreAugust 6, 2012

War on home gardens - Canada town outlaws food self-sufficiency

Monday, August 06, 2012 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer

A Canadian couple that has been growing a beautiful, meticulously-maintained front yard vegetable and herb garden has been ordered by city officials to uproot most of it by September 1 or else face lofty fines. CBC News and others are reporting that the town of Drummondville in Quebec is actually planning to ban all front yard gardens in the municipality beginning this fall; a move the spells the end of food self-sufficiency for many Canadians living in the area.

Michel Beauchamp and Josee Landry love to grow their own food. But the back yard of their well kept, Saint-Charles area home does not get enough natural sunlight throughout the day to grow the many varieties of fresh fare they have long enjoyed. So they asked their town's Environmental Services Inspector if it was permissible to grow food in their front yard, and they were given a verbal affirmative that this was not a problem.

"They used to have flowers growing, but Beauchamp has high blood pressure and wanted to eat healthier. So they planted cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchinis, beets, onions, and Brussels sprouts, among other vegetables," said CBC News about the garden. According to the same report, Beauchamp has lost an astounding 75 pounds since first planting the garden, and much of this is due to his having been able to grow and eat his own healthy food at home.

Drummondville changes its mind, betrays Beauchamp and his wife

But after the couple invested roughly $2,500 to install the garden, which is among the most tasteful and orderly front yard gardens that you will likely ever see, by the way (http://grist.org/list/city-officials-are-waging-a-war-on-gardens/), Drummondville officials turned on the couple and told them that they would have to remove most of their garden or else face a daily fine of up to $300 -- and the couple was given just seven days to comply with this demand.

According to city officials, every front yard garden in Drummondville has to contain at least 30 percent grass, a requirement that Beauchamp and his wife did not comply with when they installed the garden. It does not appear that the couple was ever even told about the requirement; as they had previously received approval to plant the garden as it currently is.

When Beauchamp and his wife challenged the city on the order, officials did not relent, but instead gave the couple a compliance extension, telling them that they had until September 1 to rip up part of their garden. The two are still fighting the city over the issue, though, and continue to try to convince officials to do away with the silly ordinance.

"It must be a right to be able to grow our own vegetables on our land," said Beauchamp to CBC News. "It is nonsense to ban it."

Meanwhile, Drummondville officials are moving forward with a new ordinance that will completely restrict front yard gardens altogether, no matter their size, which puts Beauchamp and his wife and many others out of the food self-sufficiency business. Since many back yards in the area are too small or do not receive the proper amounts of natural sunlight, many areas' residents will essentially be restricted from ever growing their own food unless they move.

Food oppression also escalating in the U.S.

Similar jack-booted oppression by local officials is taking place in the U.S. as well, including in Tulsa, Okla., where a woman recently had her entire front yard garden illegally bulldozed by city officials (http://www.naturalnews.com). Similar cases of home-grown food destruction have taken place in Georgia, Michigan, and New Jersey.

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/036709_home_gardens_attacks_self-sufficiency.html#ixzz22lOLt8zS

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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

You asked the question, why would anyone ban front (vegetable) gardens? One reason I can think of, is that sometimes a vegetable garden looks unkempt at certain times of the year. Maybe an owner with a front yard garden, is sick for a couple of weeks or busy and can't keep up with it. A vegetable garden after all, is utilitarian. People who live across the street or in the neighborhood, perhaps have enough sun in their backyard for vegetables, or don't care to vegetable garden, they keep their front yard looking well groomed and attractive and don't enjoy looking at a vegetable garden from their windows. Especially since most home vegetable gardens grow lots of tomatoes and crops that need support. So you're not just looking at vegetation, but stakes and cages.

So, really, that home owner who is objecting to the front vegetable garden, doesn't really appreciate the vegetable garden the same way you do, so they may be having to 'give up' something to allow you to have what you need or want.

Not that I support banning vegetable gardens in the front. I have less sun in my backyard than the front, so I understand the situation. As a matter of fact, the past two years, I have started adding vegetables to the front. But I've had a front flower garden for many years and I simply added them on the house side of the garden and the rest of the flower garden screens them from view. I even have a staked tomato out there that is happily producing lots more tomatoes than the one in the back. But I sought out a bush tomato that gets no more than 3 ft tall and it works out that you can't see it from the street. Or the peppers and basil even with their cages.

I think it comes down to consideration for your neighbors on both sides of the question. Too often people think, 'I have a right....' and force something on others without considering how unhappy they may make them and not willing to compromise. For instance, there was a family in Newton who decided to put a vegetable garden in their front yard. This person didn't just plant a garden, he decided to grow nothing but tomatoes, and built a scaffold out of wood, that was about 8ft tall and hung dozens of bright red gallon buckets with tomatoes planted upside down in them. It was totally an eye sore. Vegetable gardening is my first love, but even I would not want to live across the street from that. Maybe you heard the story? It was resolved, they found a place for him to move his garden to.

I wish everyone would have their own vegetable garden. I also wish that when developers buy land and divide it into parcels, that they make the lots large enough for everyone to grow a vegetable garden in the backyard. (g) Not as profitable I know. I wish neighbors didn't plant trees on the lot line, so that most of the crown of the tree ends up in your yard and you have a shade garden whether you like it or not. But you choose your home and your lot and you have to live with that decision. If you didn't want a vegetable garden when you moved in, but now you do, you do to some extent have to live with your choice. Or you could decide to look for a property that gives you what you need and move. Or you can work it out with your neighbors so that everyone is happy.

So, I do believe that people should be allowed to grow vegetables in their front yard, but I also think they should put special effort into making it as unobtrusive and attractive as they can for their neighbors sake. Do I think that everyone who gardens in the front would actually keep it attractive? I doubt it. And probably many neighbors have doubts about whether the homeowner who 'says' he will keep it neat and attractive, will. So I think there is the root of the resistance.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 8:58AM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

When I see language like this:

Similar jack-booted oppression by local officials is taking place in the U.S. as well, including in Tulsa, Okla., where a woman recently had her entire front yard garden illegally bulldozed by city officials (http://www.naturalnews.com). Similar cases of home-grown food destruction have taken place in Georgia, Michigan, and New Jersey.

I know that this is not from a legitimate news service. As I've pointed out before these are right wing survivalist websites that wouldn't recognize the truth if it jumped up and bit them in the backside. When you have a legitimate truthful story about front yard vegetable gardens, please post that. Otherwise stop this nonsense.

BTW, there was a story about a woman who lived in a complex that prohibited front yard vegetable gardens in Fine Gardening Magazine last month. She planted a garden in her front yard that was so attractive that the "jack-booted, evil, freedom stealing" local officials changed their rules.


    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 6:41PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Steve, I appreciate your trying to figure out where the news reports are coming from. I try to look for legitimate sources when I am looking for information online. Even if I google reviews of appliances, I notice that the first few pages of hits, are from the companies that are selling appliances, but disguised as something more objective. You have to be on your toes every minute it seems.

And that story I mentioned about the person in Newton who wanted to grow the tomatoes in his front yard. They worked out a solution that made everyone happy. They found town property where the man was happy to use for his garden.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 8:18PM
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Hello Pariemoon2,

It was good that a happy solution for all involved was found for the neighbor that was upsetting the neighborhood with his bucket planting. And I believe communities and neighbors are wise to be respectful and supportive of each other as we live our daily and often very different lives, with different goals, different resources and different challenges. I did not come across that story. Thank you for telling me about it. Unfortunately, I am aware of too many stories and situation like the ones I posted that did not have such a happy ending. But I always love hearing about a situation that supports people instead of tearing them down personally, or tearing down their personal resources and work.

Too often "labels" are used to manipulate facts and viewpoints. Sometimes people feel the only solution is to stay silent about a situation, and let the bullying deed go unnoticed. Some people do not want to acknowledge or even "know" for whatever personal reason that things like this are actually happening to people. Some people feel better about denying that events like this are happening to some Americans. Sometimes some people try to quiet another's experience by calling another names, minimizing their experience, or labeling them. Some people have a challenging time widening their lens of the world outside of their personal everyday world. Some people, some of the time feel the need to attack those who think and view differently than themselves.

It sounds like you are a very compassionate, and considerate neighbor, and a talented gardener for being able to disguise vegetables in the front lawn so well so your neighbor will have a pleasing sight to look at. The fact is not everyone, at every stage of their life are in a position to do that.

We all have personal experiences and views on issues. My thought is being aware of various issues that actual people are going through is important in protecting all of us in remaining free to choose the life styles that best match our needs, while using the resources at hand to support our life. Eating and providing food is basic to life itself. Control a person's access to food or water and what is actually being done? Such a shame that some people are bullies, telling other people what they can and cannot do, what they should or should not read.

One thing we gardeners understand is diversity of plants are important to garden health. There was a movie, I think it was called: "The Gardener". I saw it many many years ago so I do not remember any details at all. What I do remember about the movie was somehow a gardener got in a position of some power. And when ever anyone asked him what needs to be done about a situation he answered it from a gardening viewpoint. And it was amazing how much wisdom the basic gardening experience had for the world of commerce.

Some of us garden to get always from the politics, stress and harshness of everyday life. Some of us garden to express our creativity. Some of us garden out of necessity to feed ourselves with the growing prices at the grocery store and the farmer's market, or because of the uncertainly of what may be in the food that we purchase such as the growing rate of GMO foods being in food that is not even being labeled.

As gardeners we all are at different stages in our lives, with different needs and challenges. Isn't it wonderful that we have this forum to make connections to share our experiences, our concerns, our wisdom , our differences, our practical knowledge and how the world looks through our person lens.

I wish you all good healthy soil, and clean water to grow your gardens. I understand that not all gardens are made for the cover of Home and Gardens; but all gardens to me are beautiful because some one cared enough to plant one, or was in need of one for psychological pleasure, physical beauty, or practical needs. There are so many reasons to plant a garden, especially in New England, and I always try to lend a helping hand to those who want, for whatever reason to grow a garden o f their own. But that is all just my humble opinion, and values.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 8:43AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Hi Blaketaylore,

Yes, I agree, that bullies are out there and always a challenge to resolve those situations. I am fortunate that I have very little experience with bullies. Getting along with others is more of a challenge then ever. Respect, fairness, common sense, are not so easy to come by. You obviously want to support and stick up for the 'underdogs', and I think that's great.

I guess I am not aware of more than isolated problems with people trying to grow food in the front yard and being met with resistance from the community, so you made me curious to look into it. I did a google search this morning and after 15 pages of Google hits, I see that there were basically about 5 actual cases that showed up, where this escalated to a real problem. The problem is that a lot of the hits are about the same few cases. And if you read the follow ups on the original problems, they were all resolved successfully. Only one story involved a man who actually hired a lawyer to get it resolved.

I also found many examples of successful front vegetable gardens, where people are being supported by their community. A really great example is a couple in Dunworthy GA, Van and Sally Malone, who have been growing a vegetable garden in the front yard for the past 12 years and all their neighbors love it. There are lots of blogs written by people who are growing veggies in the front yard. Like frontyardening.com. There is a company called The Front Yard Farmer who installs front yard veggie gardens. So, I think it helps to look at the whole picture.

Front Yard Vegetable gardens are a new trend. It used to be that even front yard perennial gardens were challenged and then people gradually got used to that. So, change is something that always involves a little effort and this is no exception.

Oh and I went looking for an article about that man in Newton and found a few that described the initial conflict over the set up and finally did find one that reported on how it was resolved. I added a link at the bottom so you could take a look at it. It was actually a 13ft tall wooden structure that the buckets were handing from. lol And according to the article, the town did not care if he planted a garden in his front yard, it was the 13 ft wooden structure that was not possible for him to have. And the town did try to offer him solutions, but it was actually a Seminary that came to the rescue. Quite an interesting story. Here is a photo of the structure he tried to use to grow tomatoes....

Interesting topic, thanks for bringing it up... :-)

Here is a link that might be useful: Seminary gives sanctuary to outlaw tomato garden

    Bookmark   August 7, 2012 at 1:10PM
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