Legislation & Lobbying

City Code Cases Over Front-Yard Food


Corn. Tomatoes. Sunflowers. All are mainstays in many backyard gardens throughout the country. But now that so-called edible estates are replacing front lawns in urban areas, some neighboring residents are up in arms over the otherwise innocuous veggies.

An increasing movement toward replacing the lawns in front of houses with urban vegetable gardens is also sprouting municipal code complaints in cities that have specific rules about lawn areas, reports the Associated Press. In some cases, municipal codes are being changed to accommodate the modern-day gardens, which proponents hail as environmentally friendly and a way to connect with neighbors. In others, front-yard farmers find a way, formally or informally, to comply with local standards.

In Sacramento, Calif., an anonymous complaint about Karen Baumann’s garden led her and others to challenge a city rule that restricted veggies to a maximum of 30 percent of the front yard. “After a public hearing where Baumann’s 11-year-old twin sons testified, dressed as a carrot and a tomato, the city changed the law,” says AP.

In Huntsville, Ala., Shannon McBride beautifies her front-yard veggie beds by surrounding them with grass borders. “We promised our neighbor we wouldn’t grow corn,” she says, “because that looks kind of tacky.”

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