I was listening to one of my regular podcasts (the Survival Podcast), and Jack the host revisited a topic that surfaced last June. A nice couple in Oak Park, Michigan had to replace their sewer pipe going out to the street. Since the yard was torn up anyway, they decided to put in 5 raised beds and grow some nice veggies instead of boring old grass again. They even called the code enforcement dept and asked if it was ok. They hired somebody to build them some nice raised beds. Look at the pictures, there's nothing unattractive about this. They spent significant time, effort and money to make it look nice and be in compliance.
When she called code enforcement, the response was basically, "I'm not sure. The code doesn't say anything about vegetables, just that it has to be "suitable plants and vegetation" or something to that effect. Their thoughts were, "Hey, tomatoes and basil and other nice looking herbs and so on, should be plenty suitable." The city thought otherwise, and eventually issued them a citation and then took them to court.
As a Libertarian, I would like to allow my neighbors to grow anything they want, anywhere on their property, so long as they don't hurt me or my property value. So, done nicely, some raised beds with fresh organic veggies would make me happy. And, I have a whole orchard and garden in my front and side yard, so this is not just a theoretical discussion for me.
The prosecuting attorney told them in no uncertain terms, that they were definitely going to be prosecuted and, made an example of. The couple elected to have a jury trial, thinking it would be hard to find 12 people who would find tomato plants and basil and oregano, to be heinous and against the law.
Before the trial could happen, the city of Oak Park got their telecom and computer network melted to the ground by the tens of thousands of calls and emails, virtually all of which were opposed to the city's actions. They backed down, and dropped all the petty and vindictive strategies they were pursuing against this family.
Which brings me to my point. If you love freedom, and you love liberty, and you think we still have private property and the rights that go along with that, and you become aware of some other example of a town, city, village, Homeowner's Association, etc, trying to ram some ridiculous and out of date standard down somebody's throat for growing some veggies in the front yard...
WE HAVE A PLAN.
The internet, and especially the blogosphere, has created a highly aware, and highly responsive community of people who just don't tolerate abusive and petty government. If you run across an example of inappropriate government at any level, telling people they can't grow food (nicely) in their own yard, front OR back, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and put something like this in the subject line:
government interfering with gardeners again in _________________
He will put the word out, and then we will put the word out. It turns out that small government at least, is responsive when tens of thousands of people start shouting at them and publicizing their petty tyrannical ways.
Hopefully, we will never have to do that again, but I am somewhat cynical about that.
Power to the People!
Go plant some sweet corn in your front yard as an act of protest. Well, wait till next spring.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
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