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.