SUGAR CREEK – Do you think a free citizen should have the right to grow food on their own private property? A city board in Missouri doesn’t think so. In fact one family has been given a mere four days to destroy their beloved food source simply because it is in their front yard.
Nathan Athans loves his garden. “I spend all my free time out here,” he says.
Besides the therapeutic and health benefits of getting your hands in the soil, and the financial savings of having fresh nutritious food readily available, Nathan also enjoys the peace of mind.
“I want my family to know where their food is coming from, I don’t want to have to go to the grocery store and worry about what was done to that food,” he says.
That’s a basic liberty isn’t it? Especially when it is done on one’s own private property.
This isn’t the first time Nathan has been targeted by the local bureaucrats. Last year he was served a notice that his front yard garden had too many weeds and was fined. Nathan humbly weeded his garden (pictured below), paid the fine, and carried on.
Now as his growing season is just starting to get underway and he has many plants in the ground, the city wants him to destroy it completely. As you can see in the footage above and below the garden is not overgrown in any way.
The ordinance that is attempting to ban urban agriculture was just passed last week. A Board on Zoning apparently decided that no food shall be grown in the front yard and/or within 30 feet of any city street in Sugar Creek. Violators will be fined, the ordinance threatens.
The only problem is that for Nathan, his backyard is heavily shaded by neighboring trees, thus the ample fertile space in the front yard was chosen.
In response to the static he received from those who support front yard gardens, Mayor Matt Mallinson said that “Rather I agree or not, I must sign the ordinance.”
Unfortunately, Sugar Creek is far from the only city to pull this sort of invasive nonsense. While vegetable gardens were once actively promoted by the government, in the last few decades they’ve come under fire in many municipalities around the country:
— An Orlando family was threatened with fines as high as $500 per day for their front yard vegetable garden — apparently they’d run afoul of a city ordinance requiring people to plant grass, shrubs, and other “traditional landscaping” options on their properties.
— In Miami Shores, FL, a couple was forced to uproot their 17-year-old vegetable garden in the face of city fines of up to $1500 per month.
— In Oak Park, MI, a woman was threatened with 90+ days of jail time for her vegetable garden. After she hired a lawyer, the case was temporarily dismissed, but could be renewed at any time.
— In Tulsa, OK, city officials actually destroyed a woman’s garden for the “crime” of having non-tree plants taller than 12 inches in her front yard. She was out of work and had been relying on her garden for food while money was tight.
— And then there’s Oakland, CA, where you can grow all the fresh vegetables you want…; but if you want to sell any of them, be prepared to buy a pricey permit from the city to do so.
All of these anti-garden laws are born out of two dangerous convictions: First, that the government should be allowed to regulate peaceful, voluntary activities that people do with their own property. Second, that not liking something is ample justification for banning it.
Mayor Mallinson went on to say, “I also will ensure anyone’s ability to address the Board of Zoning if they would like for it to be looked at again.”
You can help Brittany and Nathan keep their garden by sending an email to the Mayor of Sugar Creek here: http://tinyurl.com/help-nathan-and-brittany
So far support has been pouring in. “I appreciate everyone standing up with me on this, I don’t have to stand alone,” says Athans.
If the link above doesn’t work for your email client, you can copy and paste the info below into your email program. Thanks!
subject: Front yard food gardens are part of the solution
Dear Mayor Mallinson,
I am writing in support of Nathan and Brittany Athans (11214 Gill Street) and other Sugar Creek residents wishing to grow some of their own healthy, environmentally responsible food in their own front yards.
Missouri’s food insecurity and obesity levels are above the national average. Front yard food production isn’t the problem: it’s part of the solution to healthier, more sustainable communities and I respectfully request that you revise your city code to allow for this.
As mayor, you have an opportunity to put Sugar Creek, MO on the map in either a positive or negative way. Gardeners from across the country and around the world are tuning into this case and are counting on you to do the right thing.
(your town), (your state)
You can also sign the petition at change.org by following this link (almost to 10,000 now).
Article originally published on RealFarmacy.com republished with permission