Monday, July 11, 2011

Illegal to Grow Veggies???

In Oak Park, Michigan, the Bass family are being treated like criminals.  The crime is a farce.  You can read about it yourself at their blog, Oak Park Hates Veggies.  Please take time to read this family's story.  Prayers for them would be appreciated.  In a nutshell, here is what they are facing.

The Bass family had some work done in their front yard and took the opportunity to plant a small raised bed vegetable garden in their yard to help feed their family.  Julie Bass, a mother of 6 children, checked with city ordinances and found that the ordinance states that you can have plants, shrubs, grass, or other "suitable" plants in the front yard.  {I have put the word suitable in quotations here for a reason.}  In the Bass family's interpretation, a clean, well-maintained vegetable garden is and should be considered as suitable.  City planner disagrees.  The family was cited and told to move the garden to the back yard.  They didn't and are now facing a jury trial.  If the court sides with the city, Mrs. Bass faces 93 days in jail. 

Okay, here is my take on this.  Mrs. Bass was correct in checking with the city ordinances before planting.  She was able to see that the ordinance did NOT specifically say that vegetable gardens are prohibited from the front yards.  She talked also to neighbors before planting.  In the city ordinance, it states that the front yard is to be reserved for "suitable, living plants."  Okay, the word suitable is a very vague term to use.  In many communities across the nation, a front yard garden is perfectly fine.  On her blog, there are pictures of her garden.  It is extremely well kept and neat in appearance.  Far from being an eye-sore.

Obviously, I believe that the city is making a fuss where none needs to be made.  When a city uses terms that are so vague that they are left to interpretation, you will have people placing varied meanings on those terms.  But let's also look at the bigger picture.  The neighbors were okay with the garden.  She was simply trying to use an opportunity to grow food for her family.  The garden is not over run with weeds or a hazard.  Honestly, from the pictures on her blog, the garden is better maintained than many yards that I have seen in cities where home owners don't take care properly of their yards.

Around the world, Mrs. Bass' story is being reported through news organizations and blogs.  The public outcry in support of the Bass family is amazing.  If there was a clear ignoring of the city ordinances, I would be obligated as a Christian to not support her.  The Bible teaches us that we are to obey the laws of those in leadership over us as long as we are not going against God's law in the process.  In this case though, I have seen nothing in news articles or her own account that suggests that she violated the ordinance.

Please pray for this family that the Lord's will be done.