09 July 2011

Woman in Oak Park Faces 93 Day Jail Time for Growing Vegetables in Her Front Yard!!




Oak Park seems to be out of touch as they prepare to prosecute resident Julie Bass for growing vegetables in her front yard.  After all, front yard vegetable gardens are in vogue right now as homeowners strive for economical organic means of supplying their own produce.  However, Oak Park city code states: "all unpaved portions of the site shall be planted with grass or ground cover or shrubbery or other suitable live plant material."  What makes vegetables unsuitable?

From the photo, it is obvious this gardener hasn't let the raised beds go to weed.  She has instituted raised beds to contain her crops, making it easy to cultivate and pleasing on the eye.  So why does the city have a problem with it?

As quoted in the Huffington post, Oak Park City Planner Kevin Rukolwski told MYFOXDETROIT:  "If you look at the definition of what suitable is in Webster's dictionary, it will say common. So, if you look around and you look in any other community, what's common to a front yard is a nice, grass yard with beautiful trees and bushes and flowers."

Gardener Julie Bass has received a warning, a ticket, and now a misdemeanour charge for refusing to remove the vegetable garden from the front yard.  Pretrial is scheduled for July 26 of this year.  According to Julie's blog, she faces up to 93 days imprisonment.

Fellow gardeners, do you think the city's actions are justified?  Or, do you side with the homeowner, Julie Bass?  How do you feel about the homeowner's right to landscape as she sees fit?

The full news article is here.


14 comments:

Netty said...

This is ridiculous!
What she is doing is great. I'm sure there are other yards that are grass, shrubs and trees that are NOT maintained in her neighborhood. Are they getting fined too? And who decided that veggies are unsuitable?

Beth said...

Hi, I think it is definitely unfair to the homeowner. Hard to believe the police and courts are wasting time and resources on such a case - you'd think they would have more important "criminals" to locate and prosecute.
Blessings, Beth

Melanie said...

Dumb Dumb Dumb. At least she is not wasting water, spraying toxic weed killer or noxious pesticides that will get into rivers, lakes and the ocean. Growing grass is so old school. Hopefully she can use the opportunity to educate the idiots who are persecuting her, raise awareness and change the stupid law!

Clipped Wings said...

Cities come up with crazy rules, rules made by persons more concerned with looks that the grass and nursery industries say is proper. In the end it is all about making a profit. I think as long as your yard doesn't look like a city dump, you should be able to do with it as you please. I wildlife garden with mostly native plants front and back yard in the suburbs, and one has to learn the tricks of the trade to survive. In the beginning I was reported to the health department by one person (it only takes one), an official came out to look at the yard and talk to me. I don't plant in rows or formal gardens, and the only grass is the strip by the street; but it has the appearence of being planned out, so he said it all looked okay and really didn't know what to tell me, so he finally came up with "too much vegetation", hahaha. Told me to cut down the seed heads in the fall and I should be alright. Of course, I didn't do that, and at one point I had my ducks in a row to appear before the environmental court, but that never materialized. Since I am so bold as to plant native in my front yard, I had to create more of a city park environment to get away with it all. I put in my stone pathways, bench, birdbath, statues, mulch the strip of area between the grass and where the garden begin, and I keep the front of the garden trimmed and weeded to appear neat. If you know plants and take a close look, there is a lot of wild stuff growing in all that green. It has the illusion of what people like and makes them happy, even though it is still pretty wild. A row of mixed shrubs in the front also helps hide nature. I think she would maybe have gotten away with it if the areas around her gardens were more than just bare soil.

Bernie said...

How absolutely absurd! Her vegie garden looks better than a whole lot of supposedly 'suitable' front gardens!!

We didn't come here for the grass... said...

It totally ridiculous! I think the entire gardening community should be up in arms over this. How dare anyone say that vegetables are not suitable - they are more suitable than grass! I'll be blogging about this too - we need to spread the word. Thanks for starting the ball rolling. Check out the facebook page for this too - Oak park hates veggies - It needs to go viral!

Gerald (Hyde DP) said...

civic jobsworths have too much power everywhere.

Donna Heber said...

I think the city should mind their own business! It is her yard and if she wants some fresh vegetables so be it. What has this world come to!

Rambling Woods said...

Nuts..our town is strict..we have been ticketed for our grass being too long..and it wasn't that long..

Sandy aka Doris the Great said...

I think the people pressing charges and the courts actually going ahead with this should be ashamed of themselves. How shallow and vain to dictate that a useless stretch of lawn is more attractive than sustenance. OMG!

Jennifer@threedogsinagarden said...

Hi Shirley,
There is not a single blade of grass in my front yard. I guess I should be worried about someone coming after me.
I wonder: If julie simply planted grass between the raised beds wouldn't that meet the city's requirements?

The Sage Butterfly said...

This is very sad. How did grass become such a coveted method of creating a norm? I think a vegetable garden can not only be beautiful, but is practical and more earth-friendly than grass. And I definitely do not understand the jail sentence...that is ridiculous! I am on her side...

Halcyon said...

There are many yards in my neighborhood that have plenty of bushes and grass that look far worse than this. I think people ought to be able to do what they want on their property as long as it looks nice and tidy and isn't bothering anyone.

Byddi - We didn't come here for the grass... said...

Totally with you on this one. Saying its ridiculous is such and understatement! I posted about it in my blog too - spread the word, I say!

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