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Michigan Woman Faces Jail Time For Growing Veggies
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Michigan Woman Faces Jail Time for Growing Veggies

An Oak Park, Michigan mother of six is facing a possible 93 day jail term because she was growing vegetables. What's wrong with that you say? Was there marijuana mixed with the basil? No, it seems her crime was to grow a garden in the front yard instead of in the back yard. The audacity!

Julie Bass is a resident of Oak Park, Michigan. After sewer work tore up her front lawn, she decided to put five raised beds in the front yard instead of seeing the barren dirt where the lawn used to be. The raised beds are growing mix of squashes, corn, tomatoes, flowers, cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers and herbs.

"We thought it'd be really cool to do it so the neighbors could see. The kids love it. The kids from the neighborhood all come and help', she told a local TV news station. Unfortunately for Julie Bass, one neighbor didn't love it. The neighbor called the city and complained that the front yard garden was a disruption to the look of the neighborhood. The city agreed with the neighbor. Oak Park has a city ordinance that states "a front yard has to have suitable, live, plant material." Evidently, outlaw veggies aren't suitable. City Planner Kevin Rulkowski adds that suitable means "common"- such as a lawn, shrubs, or flowers. The city ordinance does not, however, state that those are the only suitable materials.

Oak Park is a place like many others in the United States. It's a small city of a little less than 30,000 people as of the 2010 census. It's not a particularly rich community (and she is not part of a homeowners association). The average median income for a family is only $54,786, according to Wikipedia. Like many other communities across the country, families are tightening belts and saving money wherever they can. Isn't gardening a fantastic way to do that? When she received the warning from the city, Bass argued that organic food is expensive and she has the right to grow her own vegetables. When she refused to change her yard, she was ticketed and charged with a misdemeanor.

Julie is scheduled for court on July 26, 2011. She will argue her case before a jury of her peers. If she fails to persuade them to her cause, she could face up to 93 days in jail.

Julie stands strong and refuses to back down, even under threat of jail time. She says she was following the example of First Lady Michelle Obama, a staunch supporter of organic family gardening.

Do you want to help? Family gardeners from all over the world are bringing her story to the spotlight in hopes that this injustice can be averted. Share her story. An authorized Facebook group has been started in her support. Who knows? If enough people join in the fight, maybe her story will even catch Michelle Obama's eye.


Street Talk

Stacydee  

How small minded some people are. I sure hope Michelle Obama notices this one and says something. Sounds like a good cause to support.

Reply
  about 7 years ago

The corporate elite doesn't like it when us peasants take steps to become independent of them. They'll even apply pressure on our elected "representatives" to crack down on us.

Reply
  about 7 years ago
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