Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Supporting Julie Bass And Her Front Yard Vegetable Garden

Here's what all the fuss is about.
Usually I try to steer clear of controversial political subjects whenever possible but the news about Oak Park Michigan taking Julie Bass to court over her putting a vegetable garden in her front yard was something I have to speak up about.

Julie is someone who by all accounts, performed her due diligence before she built this front yard vegetable garden and now, because a neighbor complained, suddenly finds herself battling the city for the right to keep it.   She states in an interview that she would never would have built it if the people she spoke with at the city had told her it was illegal and from what I have seen the regulations set by the city only state "suitable plant material" may be used in front yards, failing to define what "suitable" is.  Because of this lack of clarity on what "suitable" meant, Julie said she asked more than once if vegetables were considered "suitable" and both individuals she spoke seemed to think they were fine and supported her plan.  That was until someone in the neighborhood saw what she was doing and filed complaints against her.  This complaint suddenly seemed to clarify the definition for the city and now it seems that edibles are not "suitable" for anyone to grow in their front yard.  (Gee if it's that easy to mess with city regulations I think I need to file a few complaints of my own.)  Personal taste should have nothing to do with what is suitable, if it did I could file a thousand complaints.  What I want to know is how is growing vegetables any different?  That is the biggest question here.

It seems the epitome of foolishness for a Oak Park, a city that is under a lot of financial stress right now, to make Julie's garden a crime when it already has become a place the children love and neighbors gather. They claim Julie is the one forcing the issue, which would be a non issue if they had bothered clearly defining what "suitable" meant in the first place. It makes me wonder if the complainant is the type that would rather see people just stayed inside their homes and were only seen driving away in their cars, the type that would rather live where there were no sounds of children playing and back yard barbeques.

Another thing is that Oak Park it seems, like most all cities, has blighted properties they are having trouble getting landowners to clean up, but are Julie's neighbors complaints getting those issues cleaned up?  It seems because it's not right next door or across the street from their homes these obvious violations are easier to ignore. This whole thing sounds like the typical government double standard to me and unfortunately this one pits neighbor against neighbor.  Thankfully Julie as set out to stand her ground and we gardeners are standing with her.  One thing for sure, this is shaping up to not be a typical court battle for the city of Oak Park and the future of vegetable gardening in the city of Oak Park will be decided on this decision.

Personally it saddens me when neighbors think they have the right to control what their neighbors do on their property because of their own personal taste.  Even sadder when these complaints are the result of callousness and pure ignorance.  I say pure ignorance because as it was reported in one of the interviews, one person's complaint was followed by the statement that they felt the placement of Julie's garden would invite animal pests into the area.  (And her back yard won't???)  This shows how ridiculous such complaints often are.  It is clear to me this person is clueless as to what animals will be drawn to or not and in fact Julie's retort to this complaint is the educated voice here (see the interview linked above as reference).  Now they just look like absolute fools.

Oak Park would have better served their city by cleaning up their own back yard and the blight of negligent landlords first and just left Julie alone.  It begs to wonder who is really running that city.  The true crime here has to be that Oak Park is serving busy body neighbors who are so selfish they will force their ideals of what their neighborhood should look like on everyone no matter what it costs.

This is my garden. Better than weedy dry lawn and a couple shrubs wouldn't you say?

Just so you know, I ripped out the grass in our front yard, planted a garden and because of that, many otherwise ugly and blighted yards are now planting gardens and wonder of wonders...neighbors are actually in their front yards getting to know one another which helps to keep our neighborhood safe...and yes I do grow edibles in my front yard.  The biggest critter problem we have not from vegetable gardens but is from the ignorant people who leave cat and dog food outside drawing rats and raccoons.

Michelle Obama, where are you when we need you!!!
So there I've had my say, now its your turn.  Please share this blog post with others and join in this united effort to send a message that vegetable gardens are beautiful and worthy of front yards!

Please sign the petition to help support Julie's Garden.
Julie is now blogging about this whole issue.http://www.oakparkhatesveggies.wordpress.com/  Stop by and give her some love and let her know you support her cause.


  1. Not a single mom.
    She quite often refers to her husband.

  2. Thank you for the correcting and yes she does mention her husband often. Self editing leaves something to be desired. Your comment is very much appreciated.