'War on Gardens' Flares in Mo. Town

New ordinance restricts front yard gardens; guy says it's targeting only him
By Luke Roney,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 4, 2016 8:21 AM CDT
Vegetable gardens aren't welcome in Sugar Creek, Mo., front yards.   (Kris Wilson/The Jefferson City News-Tribune via AP)

(Newser) – Score one for lovers of the lawn in Sugar Creek, Mo. The city has passed new restrictions on front-yard vegetable gardens, KSHB reports. One man, Nathan Athans, says he's the sole target of the new rules that prohibit growing food within 30 feet of the street. "We are the only house in the city with a front yard garden and just happen to be exactly within those 30 feet," Athans wrote in an online petition he started in hopes of getting the law reversed. But city building official says the gardens aren't well kept. If they were, "I don't know that there would have been a problem." Last summer the city cited Athans over weeds in the garden. He says they paid the citation and pulled the weeds—the garden was "completely weed free."

Athans says the backyard doesn't get enough sunlight, and the garden is important because "I don't want to have to go to the grocery store and worry about what was done to that food." What has been called the "war on gardens" has been flaring up across the US for years. A 2012 New York Times report highlights several front-yard garden disputes that "touch on divisive issues like homeowner rights, property values, sustainability, food integrity, and the aesthetics of the traditional American lawn." A Michigan woman, for instance, faced 93 days in jail (an outcome the prosecutor said the chances of were "nil to none") for swapping out her "green carpet of nothing" for melons, jalapenos, and other crops. As for Athans, he had until April 1 to tear out his garden. No word yet on the final outcome. (Read more Missouri stories.)

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