A disgruntled citizen’s complaint about their neighbor’s garden may land a man in jail for six months! Dirk Becker, of Lanztville, British Columbia, decided to convert his gravel lot of 2.5 acres into an organic farm, which he used soil and manure to do.
The neighbor’s complaint reached the regional district, who sent a letter to Becker informing him he had 90 days to “cease all agricultural activity” and remove the soil and manure from his property. The reason? The bylaw says that owners must ensure that their property doesn’t become “unsightly.” Technically the manure could be considered a breach of this, but considering the transformation Becker has made of his lot, is it really that big of a deal?
Apparently, it is. In an article from Synergy Magazine, Becker talks about the transformation of his land from its original state and the landscape of his neighborhood. From 1999 until now, he has worked to turn the lifeless gravel pit into a beautiful organic farm, full of food and insect life.
“We have dedicated our time to supporting hundreds of community members who have sought guidance on how to become more sustainable in their own lives; from educating people on how to support sustainable local initiatives (including 4H and homeschoolers), to teaching families how to grow their own food.”
Even with the community education, and support from the public on his activities, Becker is facing six months of jail time. A law firm has been hired on behalf of the municipality to handle the situation. Since the first letter calling for cease of activity sent in September 2010, Becker has received one additional letter in the beginning of June informing him legal action will be taken against him is he refuses.
Whats a farmer to do? Follow Becker on Facebook to watch the battle rage on.