Growing your own vs City Hall

Remember the story from last year about a Michigan woman who was actually facing jail time for turning her front yard into a food garden? Or the Los Angeles man who had a legal tussle with city government over growing food in the parkway in front of his home? Those cases have been settled, but new ones continue to pop up as individuals decide that they want to get rid of their front lawns, and replace them with gardens.

The most recent case (that I’ve found) is right here in the St. Louis metropolitan area: Karl Tricamo of Ferguson (a northern suburb) has turned his front yard into a garden in order to grow organic food for his infant son. While city officials in Ferguson haven’t gotten as nasty as those in Oak Park, Michigan, they have sent warning letters to Tricamo claiming that his edible landscape may not comply with seed and plant ordinances, and that his neighborhood isn’t zoned for agricultural activity. Tricamo claims the city wants to tear his garden out; they say that’s not the case, and they haven’t issued any citations, but still note that a judge may have to settle the conflict.

I’ve visited Tricamo’s neighborhood in the past: it’s an old-school suburban development (meaning that the houses don’t all look alike, and their are plenty of trees standing). Ferguson itself has attracted a small green community; its weekly farmers market is supposed to be one of the best in the area. It strikes me as the kind of place that would attract someone like Tricamo. As such, it will be really interesting to see how this plays out. Will City Hall recognize the changing nature of what people want to do with their yards, or hold firm to aesthetic standards that many would call wasteful and outdated? I’m going to keep an eye on developments around this story.

Know of other recent conflicts between city governments and front-yard gardeners. Share them with us.


Image credit: Screen capture from FOX 2 video