Charges Dropped Against Woman for Front Yard Vegetable Garden

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The weird, bureaucrats-run-amok saga in Oak Park, Mich., in which a woman faced jail time for planting a veggie garden in her front yard, is over for the time being. After news of the case went viral and the city was hammered with negative publicity, officials suddenly dropped the charges filed against the woman, Julie Bass, for purportedly violating city codes.

According to the Detroit News, city officials dropped the charges without giving Bass a head’s up. She found out about the change of heart from the courts. Her lawyer, Solomon Radner, offered one theory explaining Oak Park’s actions:

“Charges are dropped for the time being,” Radner said. “Based on the games the city has been playing, I would not put it past them to drop the charges just to get the media off their back.”

(MORE: Front Yard Garden Controversy Revelation: Lawns Are Useless)

The city is still pursuing charges against Bass for failure to have a dog license, even though the Basses have since gotten the necessary licenses. The charges related to the dog license, like the charges for violating codes with an “unsuitable” front yard, carry a maximum sentence of 93 days in jail.

Meanwhile, at the Oak Park Hates Veggies Facebook page, which was created to support the Basses and has generated support from around the world (over 29,000 “likes”), attention has been called to another case in which someone is being persecuted for growing vegetables on his property. Dirk Becker, who transformed a dilapidated 2.5-acre lot in Lantzville, British Columbia, into an urban agriculture producer dubbed Compassion Farm, has been ordered to cease operations of the farm because of zoning regulations.

Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

6 comments
TinaStaley
TinaStaley

It is time for these zoning regulations to be reexamined. More and more people want to grow veggies or have hens for eggs and these regulations are really outdated and keep people from becoming self reliant and healthier.

BrandyRichmond
BrandyRichmond

Crazy!  Detroit is one of the poorest places in America right now.  People can't even afford to pay their water bill and someone is going to tell them they are going to go to jail for growing a flipping veggie garden??  This country seriously has it's priorities all askew.  We need to get back on the reality train.

pdhickey84
pdhickey84

My entire front yard is filled raised veggie/herb beds.  I don't miss my lawn at all and I haven't bought produce at the store in years.  All organic.  Its foolish to prevent a home owner from growing their own food.

BrandyLovemiLifeWarner
BrandyLovemiLifeWarner

"unsuitable"... that is asinine. i have a single lot in the small town of imlay city (thumb area). I do square ft gardening and grow hundreds and hundreds of lbs of veggies ea summer. nobody has ever complained, actually quite the opposite. I get compliments from passer-byes and lots of questions, all of which i am happy to answer. Anything that is growing over or thru the fence between our home and ally is free to anyone passing thru, including 4 types of peas, cucumbers,zucchini, 3 kinds of tomatoes and tons of herbs. We have a senior center at the end of the block and they love coming down to visit during their walks and i love their expansive knowledge about gardening.

every home around us has multiple gardens. we trade produce, seed and knowledge. It brings our community together!