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City Officials Declare War on Lawn Gardens

To the urban gardener's dismay, it seems that, at least for city officials, the sight of glistening berries and bountiful veggies is an offense warranting reprimand and bulldozers.

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The offending garden in Drummondville. Photo: Josée Landry and Michel Beauchamp

Would you take offense if your neighbors began growing strawberries instead of grass? To the urban gardener’s dismay, it seems that, at least for city officials, the sight of glistening berries and bountiful veggies is an offense warranting reprimand and bulldozers.

Grist reports a ridiculous anecdote illustrating this theme:

The latest skirmish took place in Drummondville, Quebec, where Josée Landry and Michel Beauchamp built what supporters describe as “a gorgeous and meticulously-maintained edible landscape full of healthy fruits and vegetables.” (You can judge for yourself: It’s the garden in the picture above.) Under the town’s new code, a garden like that would be illegal. It covers too much of the yard. Under the new rules, only 30 percent of a yard’s area can go towards growing vegetables, and the town’s given the couple only two weeks to pull out their carefully planted veggies.

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case. Grist warns that city officials are bumping heads with would-be farmers all around the US and Canada.

It comes down to this simple formulation: Grass good! Vegetables bad. We’ve heard one too many stories in which people decide to use their yards to grow some fresh vegetables, only to have city officials come down hard on them, forcing them to tear out their food or bulldozing the gardens themselves. If building a few bike lanes counts as a war on cars, this is definitely a war on gardens.

Grist calls for cities to wake up, smell the veggies and modernize their laws. It’s not the 1950s anymore.

Here’s a video the Quebec gardeners lovingly put together of their bountiful plot:

More from Smithsonian.com:

Life, Death and Unnatural Acts in the Vegetale Garden  

Founding Fathers, Great Gardeners 

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