Julie Bass, of Oak Park, Michigan, wanted to grow her own food. She was a fan of organic vegetables, so she decided to convert her front yard from the grass-and-tree landscaping typical in her neighborhood into an edible garden. Because she had just torn up the front lawn to install a new sewer system, she had a perfect opportunity to start fresh. She planted cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers and herbs in raised wooden planters, and waited to reap her produce.
A neighbor didn't like her choice of landscaping.
The neighbor called the city and complained that Bass's yard disrupted the look of the neighborhood. The city agreed, and issued Bass a ticket.
Bass was offended. Organic produce is expensive. If she wants to grow her own, she reasoned, why shouldn't she be allowed to? She refused to change her yard. The city insisted; she lawyered up.
Now, with neither party being willing to back down, the case is likely to go to a jury trial. If Bass loses, she faces up to 93 days in jail. All for following the example of the White House! Has news of Michelle Obama not yet made it to Michigan?
We, here at Change.org, are demanding that all parties of the prosocution drop ALL charges against Julie Bass. It is a sad day when growing ones own food becomes illegal, even if only a civil offense. This is an outrage. We understand that communities have guidelines as to how their houses should look, and that residents of those communities are expected to follow them. Some of us have problems with that very notion in and of itself, so long as the resident has completely paid off the price of the house and is no longer making payments; they own the house; the community does not own the house. It is theirs, to do with whatever they want. However, that issue aside; community guidelines exist to prevent things like, for instance, a resident neglecting to mow his or her lawn, and the lawn, over time, becoming an unkempt, wild jungle. This would not be such an unreasonable thing to ask of someone; to please not let their front lawn become an overgrown mess. These sorts of guidelines should not, however, be used to prevent residents from choosing a food garden in place of landscaping for their front lawn. Not only are food gardens not unattractive, but they are productive. Such action should be rewarded, not frowned upon, and certainly not punished with a civil lawsuit. With the world rapidly depleting its fossile fuel resources, it is becoming ever-more important that we find new ways of putting food on our collective tables in the years to come, as transportation systems which currently carry food around the country and world will no longer be able to do so unless some new fuel is quickly discovered. Even if these risks are but minimal ones, which we find to be an unlikely scenario...why should somebody be frowned upon for converting their front lawn into a vegetable garden? As the HuffingtonPost article included here states, organic produce is expensive. What if her back yard doesn't get enough sunlight? If Julie Bass wants to eat healthy, she may well have no other options...
We petition you, in the city of Oak Park, to drop all charges against Julie Bass and enact a rivision to all community guidelines allowing for cultivation of vegetable gardens in back or front lawns, and which prevents other residents from taking legal actions similar to those Mrs. Bass's neighbor took to stop their neighbors' hard & admirable efforts. We also strongly suggest that you encourage neighboring communities to enact similar rivisions to their community guidelines, so as to prevent another situation such as this from occurring in the future. I say it again, sirs; it is a sad day when a person is not rewarded, let alone punished, simply for converting their front lawn into a vegetable garden.
Thank you for your time.
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