I am thankful that I live in the city I do. Our city’s approach to urban agriculture, homesteading, and gardening is huge. In fact, it’s all too common to see someone growing vegetables in their front yard. We allow urban chickens, and I do believe you can probably have goats. We have food preservation classes that are affordable. And for a while the city even gave away free rain barrels for those who wanted and could use them. Personally, I find it inspiring.
So it blows my mind that in Oak Park, Michigan, a mother of 6 is facing the threat of 93 days in jail for doing exactly what it is so many of us do in this town: Raised bed gardening in her family’s front yard…
(Obviously the city planner didn’t actually look up suitable in the dictionary, because of the few I cited, I couldn’t find common used in any of the definitions. What dictionary is he speaking of exactly? Unless he’s going by the obsolete usage of similar or matching… Still not common. Word of advice? Don’t talk to the press and cite something before looking it up… Sort of like don’t quote a religious text unless you’ve read it and made sure the quote is actually in there.)
The urban homesteading community along with gardeners on the internet are up in arms. And you know what? They should be! If a woman wants to grow organic vegetables for her family (especially her large family!) in her front yard instead of grass, I personally don’t think it should be a problem. In fact, I would go so far as to say she should be held as an example of what we all should be trying to do in this economy and current agricultural system! Good for her for working to provide healthy food for her children! Good for her for being frugal! Good for her for wanting to be more environmentally responsible.
Having read some of her blog, I noticed that despite wishing she could have chickens, rain barrels and other accoutrements of sustainable urban homesteads, she doesn’t because they’re illegal in her city. The law over the plants in her front yard are very vague and subjected… What I find suitable obviously isn’t the same as the city of Oak Park. Personally I don’t feel that grass is a suitable plant in any yard unless it’s native… It’s both an environmental disaster, and well… It’s an allergy nightmare if freshly mown or left to go to pollen (aka the yard’s not taken care of) for me, so maybe I have a tiny personal problem with it.
This really is just outrageous, though… I mean, I’ve spent a few days trying to wrap my brain around this. Aren’t there real criminals to throw in jail? Doesn’t the city have better things to worry about, like maybe making sure they have healthy meal options in public schools or something? Are they just so bored that they need a hobby other than picking on their citizens?
If you feel this is as ridiculous as I do, please take a moment to write an email to send to the appropriate people (see below), sign the petition, write about it in your own blog, and join the Facebook page dedicated to keeping us updated on what is going on.
Oak Park City Planner – Kevin Rulkowski
Oak Park Mayor – Gerald E Naftaly