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by lindastcyr
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Who knew a veggie garden could send you to jail? Julie Bass, an Oak Parks, Michigan resident and mother of six, had no idea that her veggie garden could make her face up to 93 days behind bars. According to Treehugger, her big crime was growing an edible garden in her front yard. The garden which consists of 5 raised beds includes tomatoes, corn, squash, some flowers and a variety of other veggies. The allegation against Bass is that she is in noncompliance with a city oridinance that says only “suitable” plant material is allowed on the lawn.

When asked what the “suitable” plant material allowed was, city planner Kevin Rulkowski claimed that it meant “common lawn, nice shrubs and flowers.” However, the ordinance does not state that those are the only “suitable” plant material for a front yard. Bass had received a warning from the city and was told to remove the garden beds. She refused and has been issued a ticket and charged with a misdemeanor. If she if found guilty she faces up to 93 days in jail and a fine. She would be considered a criminal in the eyes of Michigan. Perhaps, the state will dub her the “veggie bandit”?

We reached out to Michigan residents and people across the nation about Bass’ garden plight. The reactions vary from confusion to outrage and complete indignation.  Jennifer Joy Hamelink, a resident of Michigan says, “… that’s downright ridiculous–but also not surprising at all. Michigan (imo) seems to have a lot of really stupid laws, people get into trouble for not adhering to a vague law like that one. They state “common” but no specifics on what exactly isn’t allowed. If there’s nothing specifically stating she can’t have vegetables in her front yard, then that should be written in the law before they can punish her for doing so. Otherwise she’s just being punished for no reason. This vague crap our state pulls is getting really old.”

Another resident of the Great Lakes State, Marilisa Kinney Sachteleben, believes their are other issues that the state should be addressing. “As a resident of Michigan, I can assure you that we have much bigger issues to deal than the aesthetics of a vegetable garden in the front yard. Julie Bass is feeding her family in a proactive, budget-friendly way. If she goes to jail for that, I’ll march on Lansing, lobbing hibiscus bushes.”

But it isn’t only residents of The Wolverine State that are reacting to Bass’ case against Oak Parks. Here are just a few responses from we received via Facebook:
Donna Thacker thinks the case is just crazy, “Some ordinances state that you cannot have a business on your property, but you can do something as a hobby. Gardening is a “hobby!” It’s no wonder states are so broke if they spend money on this craziness.Leave the woman alone and let her raise vegetables for her children. Would they prefer she go on welfare to get food?”

Caren Haug questions the entire point of the city going after Bass, “I wouldn’t expect a citation for having just regular old dirt if my stupid grass refused to grow. This whole farce is a waste of taxpayer money in my opinion. Don’t they have better things to do?”

Humor writer and vlogger Randy Barefoot says, “It’s not like she has cars on blocks in her yard. Maybe she can fight back by selling the carbon credits she’s generating.”

Arizona resident, Sophie Tesch, questions the motives of the city councilman, “With Michigan’s perpetual high unemployment rate, problems with food insecurity and budget deficits in many counties, more people should be encouraged to plant gardens. The garden in question is aesthetically pleasing and is in no way a reason to inflict expensive incarceration on this individual. This seems to be more about the councilman’s pride than it is about doing what is best for the community. I doubt the community needs to be protected from this rouge gardener!”

Julie Bass will be taking her garden fight to a jury trial on July 26th. Will the city be able to stomp out rouge gardening or will the “veggie bandit” prevail? Let us know your thoughts.

About lindastcyr

Linda St.Cyr is a writer, blogger, activist, and short story author. When she isn’t writing or raising her kids with her life partner, she is busy being vocal about feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, and bringing attention to human rights violations all over the world.

View all posts by lindastcyr →
  • martin

    A governor that can fire elected officials and this moron spending taxpayer’s money inflicting tyranny on a citizen for the reasonable use private property…

    it’s official

    MICHIGAN — FIRST IN FASCISM

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Reese-Mitchell/1149464523 Reese Mitchell

    Seems reasonable to me. What better way to control your comrades than with food. I’m sure Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin would agree. Long live the Supreme Republican Comrades.

  • robert m

    “stomp out rouge gardening” should read “stomp out rogue gardening”

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sophie-Tesch/100001177857021 Sophie Tesch

      You are right Robert. Rouge gardening is a whole other article. My apologies for the typo.

  • http://www.terracycle.net Prakhar

    We should be praising the government. Because of their terrible interpretation of the law, this woman is getting publicity and showing Americans some great things they can do with their land.

  • don_miguelo

    Ridiculous! Reminds me of the gardens made by streetkids in NY in abandoned parking lots –the governer bulldozed.

    I mean if there was a valid reason for the law: such as lead paint chips were in the soil from old lead house paint, or some such thing, but this is just a busybody council trying to feel important, nothing more.

    What the hell are they worried about? The supermarket losing money? Tractors and cows on the lawn? PHHHFT!

  • Janice Thompson

    Apparently the lawmakers haven’t learned that this is a teaching experience whereas the parents are teaching their children where/how vegetables are grown and not bought in the gocery stores.

    They should lighten up and encourage others (on food stamps especially) to make their entitlements go a little bit further. This goes for those laid off too.

    The city fathers should also provide free instructons on preserving food for the winter or if food shortages are happening.

  • Whoever…

    “Land of the free…”

    Yeah, right!

    Maybe your stupid government should learn something from Cuba, the country you unfairly placed an embargo on…
    If they hadn’t grown their own food in every piece of land available for that purpose, during all this time, many people would have starved to death.

    But then again since Americans are so fat, maybe a little bit of hunger will do you some good!

  • W B Heath

    Lets plant a vegetable garden on the front lawn of city hall an give the veggies to all the residents who may be out of work. These people need to get a life.

    Wildman

  • Frank

    So modern American is so far down the path of fascism that planting a vegetable garden has literally become an act of subversion. Citizens, you know what to do.