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.
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.
“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.”
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