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Another American Town Has Ordered A Family To Destroy Its Vegetable Garden

Another American Town Has Ordered A Family To Destroy Its Vegetable Garden

The garden at the center of the controversy.

A Missouri family has been ordered to destroy its vegetable garden or face fines, simply because it is within 30 feet of a street.

The new ordinance in Sugar Creek, Missouri, appears to be aimed at only one family.

“Them coming and telling me I can’t have a garden, then what comes next?” garden owner Nathan Athans asked TV station KSHB. “I just want to grow my own food and provide for my family.”

The village of Sugar Creek banned vegetable gardens located within 30 feet of the street after it says it received complaints from citizens. Athans contends the ordinance was directed against him, because last year the village cited him for having weeds in his garden.

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The garden is in the front yard because the back yard does not receive enough sunlight to support a garden.

The family has received an outpouring of support since the story broke in local media.

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“Around the world, I’ve had people from the UK, Australia, Denmark, Holland, France emailing me and emailing the city council, saying this isn’t just a local issue, this is an international issue,” Athans told KSHB.

Sugar Creek actually encourages gardening, and the village maintains a community garden where residents can grow vegetables. Athans, though, said the community garden requires a rental fee, and he sees no reason why he would pay money for something he can do for free in his yard.

“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, Athans said.

The two sides disagree over whether his garden has been properly maintained.

“I don’t know that there would have been a problem with them had the gardens been well kept, [but] they weren’t,” the village’s building official, Paul Loving, told KSHB.

Last year, Athans was cited for weeds in his garden.

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“We did it, completely weed-free. We paid our citation,” Athans said.

Ari Bargil, an attorney at the Institute for Justice, said the garden should be allowed.

“This is a very peaceful, productive use of property. It’s not harming anybody, [and] it’s not harming the land,” Bargil told KSHB. “They’re using it to feed themselves. This is a basic liberty that all Americans should be able to exercise.”

(Listen to Off The Grid Radio’s previous interview with Bargil here.)

Athans is far from alone, and gardeners in other parts of the US and Canada have run into similar prohibitions. Miami Shores, Florida, residents Hermine Ricketts and Tom Carroll were ordered to tear out an organic vegetable garden they had tended for 17 years because it was in the front yard.

A petition supporting the Sugar Creek garden was launched at Change.org. The goal is 15,000 signatures, and thus far it has 10,000.

“We believe in sustainability, growing our food locally without pesticides and excessive fertilizer use, reducing our need for fossil fuels to import produce from other countries, countries that have little or no regulations on pesticide use,” it reads. “ … “The city exclusively made this ordinance for our family and we want to fight it so we can grow our little garden in peace.”

Do you believe the family should be allowed to keep its garden? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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7 comments

  1. That this is in question is beyond belief. Should a family be allowed to eat food they have grown, on property they have paid for?
    That this is a question is a symptom of a very sick and broken society.
    I think this family should sue the town for harassment, obstruction of civil rights, and sheer stupidity.
    Un bloody believable.

  2. I think the city is full of crap. So this is the only option. Instead of fining the family, make them instead put up a 36 inch privacy fence in the front. It is the dang property. It sounds like the guy is teaching his family to provide for themselves. It is almost as stupid as saying you can not collect rain water the comes off your house.

  3. This is absurd! That a city, or town would even consider this is ridiculous, and just another example of folks with zero common sense sitting on or influencing local government/boards. I am sure this same community prefers someone pouring pesticides and high nitrate fertilizers into their pristine lawn (like my neighbor does) despite the dangers to the groundwater, and local lakes and streams. Basically, every single member of this city council/board who voted in favor of this rule is either a) a complete moron or b) needs psychiatric evaluation.

    I agree with Gary that if the town truly considers it an “eyesore” then make it a rule to have a minimum of 30 in privacy or picket fence for vegetable gardens.
    We should all be growing more of our own food whenever possible, far better than the pesticide laden, dubiously sourced produce at the grocery store!
    (side note: Across the nation, every depression era homeowner is either shaking their head or rolling over in their grave)

  4. Perhaps the garden could be grandfathered in. Regardless of the ordinance.

  5. first i believe if a person pays his taxes for his land he should be able to do with his property whatever he feels within reason however if you were a person living on this street and you had a house down the block that would cost you thousands of dollars in resale value of your house or potentially cause you not to be able to sell your house then i understand why they said put your garden in the back yard i may just be to old but a garden goes in the backyard so you can play in the front yard

  6. TheSouthernNationalist

    Take the city to court and sue them for violation of your civil rights.

  7. TheSouthernNationalist

    This sounds like a civil rights violation to me, sue them!

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