Friday, July 8, 2011

Punishment for growing your own vegetables?

I haven't blogged in a while and I dare say it was due to a lack of inspiration.
That all changed when I read the story of Julie Bass vs. Oak Park.

In case you haven't heard about it yet, Julie faces 93 days in jail for planting a vegetable garden on her front lawn.

Yes, you read that right: she planted vegetables in her front yard and now she may go to jail for it.

Here I am encouraging people to try a sustainable lifestyle and plant their own vegetables while Oak Park is punishing a family for doing just that. Oak Park officials and I clearly disagree. To me this issue seems absolutely ridiculous and it reminds me of the people who were brought to court by their neighbors for having solar panels on their roof. These people are actively working towards reducing the negative impact they have on our planet. They people should be rewarded, not punished!

Not to mention that Julie's garden boxes are on her private property. While I understand that she should avoid having anything on it that can harm her neighbors, I really don't see a vegetable garden doing any harm. On the contrary, I would hope that her garden boxes would inspire others to plant their own vegetables and as Julie says, "They're fine. They're pretty. They're well maintained."

It really causes me great despair that the positive actions of individuals are being punished. Is it really worth all the attorney and court costs (which are paid for with taxpayer dollars) to take this woman to court? I can think of many better ways to spend that money. For one, consider giving schools their own vegetable gardens. Or consider using empty plots to plant community gardens.

Maybe Oak Park officials should stop by New Haven where people plant vegetables literally everywhere. Pots, plant hangers, raised beds, front yard, back yard, next to their driveway, on the strip of land between the sidewalk and the street, vegetables are everywhere and people are very proud of their gardens.

Which brings me to Victory Gardens.
One of the comments on the various blogs discussing Julie's case mentioned Victory Gardens. With some research I learned that Victory Gardens were planted during World War II in yards, on rooftops, on vacant lots, in schoolyards, in parks and in many other places, as a way to reduce food shortages.

How ironic that Oak Park is taking Julie to court over a vegetable garden that the US government actually encouraged people to plant during World War II. Back then it wasn't a crime to plant your own vegetables, it was patriotic!

So here's to Julie and to being a patriot. Whether it's in a pot, in a raised bed, in your back yard or in your front yard, plant some vegetables!

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