Monday, September 17, 2012

Garden Oppression

I heard about this story somewhere along my travels and it popped into my life again so I thought I would write about it because it makes me mad, and sad, and happy. This mom decided to turn her front yard into a garden where she can grow her own food. Shortly after that she was hit by a S-H-I-T storm of flack from the local government who claimed her garden was an eyesore and not in compliance with local zoning regulations.

"I’ve spent an unhealthy amount of time planning, researching, advocating, documenting, and otherwise defending my front yard urban garden. Moments I could have better spent with my infant son, Kae. He arrived on February 4th, 2012, and at seven pounds even, weighed as much as my heart. Within a month of his arrival, I had decided to turn a large portion of my front yard into an edible landscape. Though it has been a battle ever since, I have no regrets. He was my inspiration to begin with, and it has been my sole motivation to protect his health and freedoms. This has become a cause, not an endeavor. I broke ground when he was 35 days old. 
A lawn, though seemingly lacking, has quite an ecosystem lurking just below the surface. Insects and worms that aerate, living in harmony with beneficial microbes among the roots of the ever browning zoysia grass. Rather than removing the lawn, I amended it into the earth. I could only go about 4″ deep the first time I cultivated the 25′x35′ area. I worked under the topsoil three full times before the sod had broken up and spread evenly. I then added roughly 15 lawn and garden bags of various tree leaves I collected. Last fall’s foliage was evenly dispersed and tilled into the ever improving “dirt”. Composted goat and horse bedding finally killed the 10 years young tiller. In all, every inch of the now redefined “soil” had been overturned roughly 8 times. 
In hopes of making my garden an art form and not an eyesore, I installed a mulch border around the entire perimeter of the soon to be yarden. This was held in place by heavy duty lawn edging, meticulously   wrapped around the outer edge. I sowed the seed of each edible and medicinal plant within. I positioned a flower and ornamental amaranth row along the sidewalk. I placed lush herbs to the east, squash and melons to the west. In between, rows of bush beans, various peppers, and more than a dozen tomato varieties. Hundreds of non- GMO, heirloom seeds. Towards the house, two small corn patches, infused with vining beans, and several grains including chia, flax, camelina, sesame seed, oats, and another amaranth. More than fifty different species and varieties, all sown strategically to benefit both themselves, and the outlook of the neighborhood. 
I’ve since laid landscaping cloth and wood mulch around many of the plants, and along the walk paths between. Weeding has been minimal, and watering has been greatly reduced by mulching. I’m pulling my first meals from previously unused space. Several pounds of green beans, a couple peppers, and various herbs have graced my dinner table so far, along with salads of amaranth and other greens. As dozens of quarter size tomatoes began to swell in the summer heat, I built a double trellis to support their ever increasing weight. Nearly everything is in bloom, and the beauty of the space intensifies more and more with each passing day."

On top of wanting to grow healthy cheap food for herself and her family, she is facing real illness and needs the healthy food that she is growing. It makes me mad that our government has come to harassing people who want to grow their own food on their own property. It makes me sad that she has to deal with this on top of being a new mom and trying to make herself healthier. It makes me happy that she is fighting them every step of the way. If you feel the way I do go over to her blog and drop some words of encouragement.

I hope she keeps fighting, wins, and continues to grow her own food.

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