Oak Park, Mich. tickets front yard vegetable garden

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By Staff Archive

Too bad all Oak Parkers don't love veggies planted in the front garden. That's our view when we heard of another Oak Park town near a Detroit suburb that recently ticketed one of its residents for planting vegetables in their front yard.

A ticket for a front yard garden? Perish such a thought in our Oak Park Village. But that drama is playing out farther east in Oak Park, Mich.

Residents Jason and Jane Bass ripped up their front yard for lawn repairs and later decided to plant cucumbers, tomatoes and peas. Local ordinances, however, forbid residents from planting vegetable gardens in their front-yard space, according to news reports from Michigan.

As such, the couple was slapped with a ticket, and depending on what happens at their July 26 court date, they could spend up to 93 days in jail.

After issuing the ticket, the city set off a firestorm, with more than 2,000 emails flying at a city official in one day. Oak Park Michigan officials maintain that they're trying to protect its aesthetics, adding that several neighbors complained about the garden. But Jane Bass told the Detroit News that she thinks it's an example of government overstepping its bounds.

We, in front yard garden-loving Oak Park, Ill., agree.

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David Hammond from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 14th, 2011 12:52 PM

"The world's oldest profession: gardening." I think it was Pat Boone who said that, and I know this is the first time I've ever quoted Pat Boone. "Ancient act"? I kinda think gardening qualifies.

another OP resident from Oak Park  

Posted: July 14th, 2011 12:48 PM

We always had gardens in the parkways growing up in Chicago in the 50's-60's. Alot of people did. We made raised beds, compost, worm bins, companion plants and all that good stuff. No big deal, nothing fancy, and we got some good food. All this fuss and nonsense about an ancient act of working with nature - pfffff.

Diane Krstulovich from Oak Park  

Posted: July 14th, 2011 7:57 AM

Another wonderful book is "Edible Landscaping" by Rosalind Creasy. Growing in popularity, available thru our local libraries!

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: July 13th, 2011 11:27 PM

Thanks,David. That's all we do to prep the garden. Our compost bin produces lots of nutrients for the soil. We've added a red wiggler box to give the plantings an extra boost.

David Hammond from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 13th, 2011 11:02 PM

I loosen and turn over the soil gently with a shovel before mixing in compost, Jim. I don't roto-till anymore, as I believe that does disrupt the soil too much.

Not the first...! from OP  

Posted: July 13th, 2011 8:44 PM

Don't miss this terrific book! "The Edible Front Yard; The Mow-less, Grow-more Plan for a Beautiful, Bountiful Garden" Author Ivette Soler even even has tips on how to grow edible plants that are so beautiful, any busy-body neighbors will be too confounded to complain. (If that mattered here, which thankfully, it doesn't) Readily available through our local library!

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: July 13th, 2011 7:56 PM

David, I recently read an article by an advocate for natural gardening who advised against turning the soil. Do you have an opinion on whether or not this could have an adverse effect on soil health and plant growth?

Violet Aura  

Posted: July 13th, 2011 6:42 PM

@David: Awesome! If you are growing that much, you are doing exactly what I had hoped! I think of the bees and all the clover destroyed by ChemLawn (or whatever fake eco name it goes by these days) and now find "perfect" lawns devoid of any "weeds" repulsive.

David Hammond from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 13th, 2011 1:56 PM

When I turn my soil, which hasn't had chemical fertilizers added in many years, I love seeing the bugs and worms rushing around; their presence is an indicator that my soil is healthy. Violet Aura, I've torn out huge swaths of my backyard to turn into vegetable gardens -- I couldn't bear to let all that beautiful land -- which gets sun for 8 hours a day -- be used for nothing but grass. There are limits, though, and right now I am probably growing enough vegetables for three families (I give a lot away).

Violet Aura  

Posted: July 13th, 2011 1:08 PM

@David: Point taken. And I hope you also agree that it's horrific to poison your lawn with chemicals because of the bees and earthworms, etc.? I guess I would like to see more people using more of their land for growing veggies.

David Hammond from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 13th, 2011 12:56 PM

"Pretty cosmetic flowers," as Violet Aura calls them, though much less interesting to me (having little gustatory value) are vital to the lives of bees, the tireless workers who keep the natural world going, making honey along the way. I don't see flowers as a waste of space for those reasons alone...though as an added bonus, they look nice.

Vegetable Verified  

Posted: July 13th, 2011 10:51 AM

Ahh, I meant Function over form.

Vegetable Verified  

Posted: July 13th, 2011 10:50 AM

Form over function. Sure...in your side or back yard.

Violet Aura  

Posted: July 13th, 2011 10:40 AM

I see something far more malevolent here. There is a "food safety" bill which was spearheaded by Dick Durbin of all people. I don't know if anything came of it but it would probably make it illegal to have any kind of private garden. I smell Big Pharma and MonSATAN's stench all over this...

Violet Aura  

Posted: July 13th, 2011 10:31 AM

@OP Guy: But you probably eat dead flesh, I gather...Interesting since there is plenty of fecal matter mixed in with your dead cow patties, according to what I have read. Another interesting factoid for ya: urine is sterile.

Violet Aura  

Posted: July 13th, 2011 10:29 AM

@Vegetable Verified (how cute): So you designate where things belong, eh? You sound like a very *ahem* "interesting" humanoid. I know that Home address and front garden and I find it fascinating to see, whenever I happen to be in that neck of the woods. Anyway, function over form. In 2011 I am dismayed over how many OPRF residents with huge spaces choose to use them for pretty but cosmetic flowers instead of huge vegetable patches.

Oak Park Guy  

Posted: July 13th, 2011 9:05 AM

I would not eat anything that dogs have urinated on for 60 years. Gardens are eyesores unless properly tended and, even then, the dirt turns to mud most of the year. Why dont we have a community garden where we could all have an allocation to work which is what they do in the UK

Teresa Powell  

Posted: July 13th, 2011 8:53 AM

A most curious aspect of this story was a handful of emails from irate Michigan residents addressed to the Oak Park Illinois board. We let them know that they had contacted Illinois instead, and invited them to visit our Oak Park gardens.

Billy Martin from Live Oak Texas  

Posted: July 13th, 2011 12:44 AM

A ticket and jail time.....are you serious?????? Good thing you folks wern't around during WWII....If we keep going like present she may be the only one to eat, regardless of where she grew it! No wonder our country is circling the bowl!

Helpful Harry  

Posted: July 12th, 2011 10:13 PM

Those who want more info, or to support the "perps", should go here: https://oakparkhatesveggies.wordpress.com/

Vegetable Verified  

Posted: July 12th, 2011 8:02 PM

Food gardens are for the back or side yards. Someone here in our Oak Park has one(and has for some time) on the 200 block of South Home, West side of street. Not very attractive.


Posted: July 12th, 2011 5:52 PM

This was such a stupid move on the part of the MI village. Home grown veggies are a great way to save money. I would rather see them growing food than boring grass that isn't even native to most of the US!


Posted: July 12th, 2011 4:32 PM

why not just link to a paper that did original reporting? This isn't even accurate. The city of Oak Park ripped up their garden for sewer repairs. Do you guys not know how to make a phone call and ask a few questions?

David Hammond from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 12th, 2011 4:24 PM

There are limits to what Oak Park will allow. Last summer, some food-loving folks down the block put up planter boxes on their boulevard (space between sidewalk and street) and had to remove them. They now have a garden there, but no boxes.

Garden Lover from Oak Park  

Posted: July 12th, 2011 3:58 PM

Please clip and send to First Lady, Michelle Obama. They are just not paying attention up there in Michigan!

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