okay, it is now january of 2013, but i am going to actually update this section for those of you who are new to the blog, but who are coming here to actually get a synopsis of why it started. i used to have a very tongue-in-cheek blurb here, since most of the people who followed the blog had been here from the beginning, and i have lots and lots of posts detailing the entire saga of the famous/infamous front yard garden.

but for those of you who want a condensed version, i will try my best to give you a quickie:

in the spring of 2011 i was given a misdemeanor citation from the city of oak park, michigan for planting a raised bed vegetable garden in my front yard.

the yard had been dug up entirely in order to replace a ruptured sewer pipe (that had flooded my basement, and which was caused by a city-owned tree). we were looking to do something with the mountain of dirt that was left behind, and after pricing out sod to replace the lawn (because, of course we would replace the lawn- what other choice was there?), we decided to check into some other options. as i looked through more and more gardening books in the library to get landscaping ideas, i kept coming back to the idea of a vegetable garden. not only would it be a much more productive use of the space than a lawn, but i thought it would be an entirely cool way to teach my kids (as well as other people in the neighborhood) about growing food. i floated the idea with some friends on the block and called the city planning office to see if there were any zoning problems with a veggie garden in the front yard.

during the first phone call i spent a long time very carefully explaining what a raised bed vegetable garden was. although the city planner seemed clearly baffled by the idea, he offered the helpful suggestion that, since nobody had ever asked him about it before, it probably wasn’t something i could do. i told him that wasn’t really an answer to my question, and asked if he could look into it for me. he said he would, and i told him i would check back with him.

i called him back, as arranged, and he informed me that he had found an answer: i was not allowed to make a fence around the front of my property. i told him that wasn’t my question, but he told me he thought that might be my next question, so he went ahead and looked it up. he hadn’t been able to find anything at all about vegetables in the front yard, or vegetable gardens in the font yard, but he did know that decorative plantings were allowed… we decided that if he came across anything else he would let me know, and we left it at that.

i went ahead and made arrangements with a local carpenter to make me some “decorative” raised beds, found a source for high quality compost, and shopped for seeds and seedlings. we had everything delivered and set everything up. it was like a small party in the neighborhood the day we started shoveling soil into the raised beds, with tons of kids coming over to help and lots of adults standing by to see what all the fuss was about. we chatted about the garden and discussed all of the things we hoped to eat together in the coming summer…

one day while i was out at the library my daughter called me pretty shaken up. the code enforcement officer had come by asking to see me. he left his name and number and said i should call as soon as i could. i did, and we had a very nice phone call wherein he asked me very politely to move the garden out of the front. i asked him what would happen next if i didn’t and he told me the city would take me to court over it. i’ll admit i didn’t fully believe that the city cared that much about a few vegetables, but he told me that there was a reason for the saying that, “you can’t fight city hall”, and he said, “you know the song, ‘i fought the law and the law won’? they say that for a reason.” he told me that the city loved when people fought stuff, because it gave them more money in fines. that was sure food for thought, but i really thought i was in the right. besides, my husband informed me in no uncertain terms that he was not shoveling any more dirt. the code enforcer was a really nice guy, and i told him not to take it personally if i didn’t move the garden.

the plants started to grow, and we didn’t hear anything else from the city. everything was humming along until a few weeks later when i received a ticket in the mail citing me for a civil misdemeanor, violating a code that stated, “all unpaved portions of the site must be paved with grass, shrubs, or other suitable live plant material”. underneath was written in “no vegitibles (sic) allowed in front yard”. since the code they cited didn’t actually say anything at all about not having vegetables in the front yard, i was left thinking that they took a pretty broad and unwarranted interpretation of that code, and that i had no reason to worry. after all, i wasn’t doing anything wrong. but the ticket also had a court date on it, so i started a blog asking for friends to pass it on, trying to find other people who may have had a similar fight with their own cities over similar issues.

a friend of a friend, who is an attorney, agreed to make a phone call to the local prosecutor for us. he assumed that the city was just trying to appease someone who had made a complaint and that there was really no way that they cared about a neat and well-maintained garden in someone’s front yard. when the attorney was told that the city intended to “take this all the way” and indeed prosecute me with a criminal misdemeanor- a crime carrying a penalty of a 93 day jail sentence- i posted that on my blog and things went viral.

local media caught wind of my case, and before long both national and international media did too. i did a bunch of interviews, the entire time not really believing that things were  happening as they were.

i wish that at the time i was a more articulate spokesperson for the cause of front yard gardens. i wish i knew then what i know now. i learned so much about all of the issues surrounding what i was doing because people cared enough to reach out to me and to educate me, and i wish i had been able to slow down enough to learn it all then and to teach it to other people.

but it was a whirlwind of media, and then, without even telling us, the city dismissed the charges against me.

they dismissed them in a way that they could bring them again any time, and they did this because the prosecutor said he wanted more time to look into the ordinance. they tried to throw two other misdemeanor charges at me for not having current dog licenses, but i had already taken care of those, and had shown proof in court, so those were dismissed as well. we were left feeling like as soon as the media attention died away that the city would come after us again- after all, people had the impression that the charges had been dropped, since that had been the headline everywhere.

shortly after that, my husband got a really good job offer in seattle and we took it.

so, here we are.

welcome to the blog. i hope you will stay, and i hope you will continue to read.

my case was the first that i know of, but sadly it was not the last. not by far. there have been lots of others, and we are really hoping to change that. this blog isn’t strictly about that- which you’ll see if you read it- but i hope you’ll stay anyway.

if you have input, i’d love to hear it.

and i guess, that’s my story.

welcome to it.


338 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jen
    Jun 13, 2011 @ 17:30:16

    Hi there,

    I heard about your blog and story from a mutual friend. Sorry to hear you’re dealing with this issue. What an unnecessary pain! I thought I could mention a few food justice organizations that might offer either a sympathetic ear or perhaps even strategies for dealing with city zoning/by-law. They can at least give you great growing tips or ideas, that’s for sure.

    #1 – Growing Power. It’s one of America’s biggest urban ag organizations and is partnered with cities, churches, community groups, etc. They even operate a free garden on Milwaukee city hall property that is tended to, in part, by city employees. http://www.growingpower.org/

    #2 – Detroit Black Community Food Security Network or Urban Farming. Both are more local for you (Detroit-based), and are organizations growing in number and power. They have somewhat different approaches and alliances, but are helping to integrate safe and nutritious food into planning and communities.
    http://detroitblackfoodsecurity.org/ and http://www.urbanfarming.org/

    *Incidentally, most major US cities will have significant urban food production operations, and in many cases, there’s a push toward helping people use their property efficiently (instead of having environmentally inefficient, water-guzzling, grass lawns). Cleveland & Ohio State (or U of Ohio) just mutually invested in a huge urban food project. NYC, Chicago & LA have tons of initiatives. There are many organizations taking up urban growing on properties for commercial purposes. Montreal has a rooftop commercial property. A few hotels (Royal York) grow herbs and other foods for their restaurants. Somebody in Detroit just bought a lot of property to grow food, too. I suppose these organizations and activities in other jurisdictions might help you make the case that the by-laws are silly and antiquated.

    If you wish to just ‘get away with it’, perhaps the enforcement wouldn’t care if you had the raised beds with other stuff around. A fence around your property might also keep you from getting more tickets. Both seem unnecessary and expensive options, for sure. You could try partnering with an organization like a food bank or perhaps a group where you donate some land for others to use for gardening. The city may be reluctant to issue fines to non-profit organizations.

    Anyway, I hope these ideas help. Best of luck in your fight.

  2. Jen
    Jun 13, 2011 @ 17:30:39

    Hi there,

    I heard about your blog and story from a mutual friend. Sorry to hear you’re dealing with this issue. What an unnecessary pain! I thought I could mention a few food justice organizations that might offer either a sympathetic ear or perhaps even strategies for dealing with city zoning/by-law. They can at least give you great growing tips or ideas, that’s for sure.

    #1 – Growing Power. It’s one of America’s biggest urban ag organizations and is partnered with cities, churches, community groups, etc. They even operate a free garden on Milwaukee city hall property that is tended to, in part, by city employees. http://www.growingpower.org/

    #2 – Detroit Black Community Food Security Network or Urban Farming. Both are more local for you (Detroit-based), and are organizations growing in number and power. They have somewhat different approaches and alliances, but are helping to integrate safe and nutritious food into planning and communities.
    http://detroitblackfoodsecurity.org/ and http://www.urbanfarming.org/

    *Incidentally, most major US cities will have significant urban food production operations, and in many cases, there’s a push toward helping people use their property efficiently (instead of having environmentally inefficient, water-guzzling, grass lawns). Cleveland & Ohio State (or U of Ohio) just mutually invested in a huge urban food project. NYC, Chicago & LA have tons of initiatives. There are many organizations taking up urban growing on properties for commercial purposes. Montreal has a rooftop commercial property. A few hotels (Royal York) grow herbs and other foods for their restaurants. Somebody in Detroit just bought a lot of property to grow food, too. I suppose these organizations and activities in other jurisdictions might help you make the case that the by-laws are silly and antiquated.

    If you wish to just ‘get away with it’, perhaps the enforcement wouldn’t care if you had the raised beds with other stuff around. A fence around your property might also keep you from getting more tickets. Both seem unnecessary and expensive options, for sure. You could try partnering with an organization like a food bank or perhaps a group where you donate some land for others to use for gardening. The city may be reluctant to issue fines to non-profit organizations

    Anyway, I hope these ideas help. Best of luck in your fight.

  3. Ken
    Jun 29, 2011 @ 23:25:25

    I believe that under the National right to farm act that you have the right to grow your own food to feed your family without the thret being harassed by nuisance lawsuits. Is the city williing to pay you for the food that you would have grown in this area?

    I recommend you look up Path To Freedom Homegrown Revolution about an urban homestead.

    http://www.littlehomesteadinthecity.org or http://www.pathtofreedom.com

  4. Tammie Heazlit
    Jun 29, 2011 @ 23:34:00

    Hi. I’m a stormwater specialist. I’d like to offer some info to you that will hopefully help you in court. First, check this out, a company that does essentially what you are doing http://rootstofruits.biz/
    They help to design, you guessed it, edible landscaping. Bet they’d support you if you asked.
    Its quite environmentally friendly, great for stormwater runoff. Veggies will uptake more runoff than simple grass. You might also want to check out the book “Lawn Wars” by local author Lois Robbins.http://www.lawnwars.org/

    I’m sure she will testify for you as well. Her book is about the waste of resources associated with the classic lawn. They contribute significantly to watershed degradation via fertilizers and pesticides, not to mention the contribution to air quality issues via emissions from lawn mowers.
    What you are doing may not be historically typical, but we are in the midst of a paradigm shift. Even the state of Mi is embracing “Green Infrastructure” and is encouraging it. I can get you documents that back this up. Its supported by the EPA see http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/home.cfm?program_id=298
    You should be aware that the City of Oak Park is a permitted municipality under the Phase II stormwater rules and regs. They are part of the Red Run Subwatershed Plan of the Clinton River http://www.crwc.org/watershed/subwatersheds/redrun.html
    What you are doing is actually something that Oak Park should be supporting under their permit.
    Also take a look at http://transitionmichigan.ning.com/
    They’re all about shifting paradigms. They’d probably come testify to the benefits of what you’re doing.
    I could go on, but you get the picture. You are 100% in the right and Oak park “leaders: need to get with the program.
    Let me know if there is anything I can do further to assist you. for what its worth, I had tomatoes peppers and herbs in my front yard last year and this, and I plan on turning the majority of my front yard into an edible landscape. I know others who are also planning on this. You are not alone.
    Peace and Namaste

  5. thegardenrenegade
    Jun 29, 2011 @ 23:44:16

    hi ken! i do know about michigan’s right to farm act- i wish that oak park did- hahaha. i will for sure check out your link tomorrow when i have the mind to process more information. thanks for the info in advance! -julie

  6. Candice Griffin
    Jun 29, 2011 @ 23:52:43

  7. Candice Griffin
    Jun 29, 2011 @ 23:55:55

    Keep fighting!! I think it is very SUITABLE to want to feed your family fresh vegetables. Is that not what they are doing at the White House.

    The Free Dictionary
    suit•a•ble (s t -b l)
    • appropriate to a purpose or an occasion.
    • appropriate; proper; fit

    Merriam Webster
    Definition of SUITABLE
    1. obsolete : similar, matching

    2. a : adapted to a use or purpose
    b : satisfying propriety : proper c : able, qualified

    Synonyms: able, capable, equal, fit, good, qualified, competent

    suit•a•ble  [soo-tuh-buh l]
    such as to suit; appropriate; fitting; becoming.

    proper, befitting, seemly, apt.

    Google dictionary
    • Right or appropriate for a particular person, purpose, or situation
    o these toys are not suitable for children under five
    • adjective: fit, appropriate, proper, fitting, convenient, becoming, opportune, right, apt, apposite, seemly, adequate, meet, due, expedient, applicable

  8. Bud
    Jun 30, 2011 @ 00:17:00

    Sorry, but I have to disagree here. I usually side with doing your own thing, especially if it doesn’t harm anyone else. I also get that there are real benefits to growing your own organic veggies. But in this case there is harm to others being done and possibly alternative solutions as well.

    First, I have to wonder what this is doing to the neighborhood property values. I can only guess it isn’t increasing them. Buy your own admission, at least some of your neighbors didn’t appreciate the state of your lawn prior to planting this garden. I can’t imagine what they (or potential home buyers) think now!

    Second, your planting does not appear to be covering your entire front yard. If the city ordinance states that your entire front yard must be covered in suitable ground cover, from what I can see (and from what I saw on the channel 7 new broadcast) your yard appears to be at least 50% covered in mulch. Mulch is not ground cover. I did a quick Google search and found a number of well landscaped front yards that appeared to be more like well landscaped flower gardens. If your front yard looked more like some of the these, perhaps the city would never even have noticed that you had a vegetable garden in your front yard!

    Finally, I was wondering… Couldn’t you have avoided all of this headache and planted your garden in the backyard? You could have avoided all of this hassle, and saved everyone else (your neighbors and fellow tax payers) the headaches and cost of a jury trial as well. And the kids would still have a front yard to play in.

    I do appreciate your creativity, sense of independence, and willingness to fight for your personal rights and rights as a landowner. I also appreciate your wanting to grow your own food and provide for your family. I can’t condone however, what I see as a lack of consideration for others when other solutions exist. Perhaps I can leave you with a few ‘hypothetical situations’ to think about… How would you feel if one of your next door neighbors wanted to put up 100,000 Christmas lights and leave them burning all night during the holidays (assuming ordinances would even allow such a thing)? What if another neighbor wanted to cover their front yard in stones (I know someone that did this and it looks absolutely horrendous) or place several hundred large statues in various locations around their front yard (even if they did have grass underneath all of them)? Would you enjoy looking at these front yards? Would you worry that your neighbor’s actions may be hurting your property values? Again, just something to think about…

  9. Rudy B
    Jun 30, 2011 @ 12:13:48

    What struck me about the story was the tool from the Oak Park Government claiming “suitable” means “common” according to Webster’s. I can’t seem to find that definition of suitable in any dictionary.
    These are from Websters Online:
    1. Meant or adapted for an occasion or use; “a tractor suitable (or fit) for heavy duty”.[Wordnet]
    2. Worthy of being chosen especially as a spouse; “the parents found the girl suitable for their son”.[Wordnet]
    3. Suitable for the desired purpose; “Is this a suitable dress for the office?”.[Wordnet]
    4. Appropriate for a condition or occasion; “everything in its proper place”; “the right man for the job”; “she is not suitable for the position”.[Wordnet]
    5. Capable of suiting; fitting; accordant; proper; becoming; agreeable; adapted; as, ornaments suitable to one’s station; language suitable for the subject.[Websters]
    6. Being appropriate, proper, apt, pertinent or convenient. [Eve – graph theoretic]
    7. Being adequate or sufficient. [Eve – graph theoretic]
    8. Being opportune, favourable, advisable, propitious or timely. [Eve – graph theoretic]
    9. Being apposite, applicable or relevant. [Eve – graph theoretic]
    10. Adjective base of the adverb suitably.[Eve – graph theoretic]

  10. joe
    Jun 30, 2011 @ 12:43:09

    can you have a fruit tree in your front yard?a tomato is a fruit i can not belive this the city is wrong and as far as the other people bitching let them go to kroger,meijer,wal mart and buy those crappy vegs ,that deserve it

  11. Dana
    Jun 30, 2011 @ 12:48:30

    Link to the Michigan Right to farm act

    Click to access michigan.pdf

    Good luck! Fight the good fight

  12. thegardenrenegade
    Jun 30, 2011 @ 15:09:38

    thanks, dana- we are certainly trying! – julie

  13. thegardenrenegade
    Jun 30, 2011 @ 15:13:26

    hey, joe- i’m not sure about a fruit tree- we actually thought about that, but decided that since tree roots caused our problem in the first place (by cracking our sewer line), we should probably stay away from anything with strong roots 🙂 thanks for your support!- julie

  14. thegardenrenegade
    Jun 30, 2011 @ 15:20:59

    rudy- you are correct. i’m not sure where he came up with an obsolete definition, when the more common usage is in pretty much every dictionary we looked in… we’ll just lump that in the pile with the other things the city says and does that i can’t understand. glad it’s not just me though… thanks for taking the time to comment- julie

  15. thegardenrenegade
    Jun 30, 2011 @ 15:42:24

    wow, jen- i might make you the official researcher for this blog! you seem so ‘in the know’ about so many things! i will check out these links later, but thank you so much for taking the time to send them to me!!!!!! hope you will check back here often, and that we will have some good news to post soon! thanks again- julie

  16. thegardenrenegade
    Jun 30, 2011 @ 16:11:44

    hi, bud! thank you for being generous even though you disagree. sadly, property values in our city have plummeted lately for a multitude of reasons that have nothing to do with our garden. our neighborhood is closeknit, and most of the neighbors have given very positive feedback. we did speak to several of our close neighbors before we started the garden, because we do care about not offending them, and because we were trying to be upfront and responsible. honestly, i have seen lots and lots of things on front lawns that i think are gaudy or tacky or ugly, but that’s not really my business to persecute the people who choose to do things i think are gross.

    we could have planted the garden in the back, but we chose the front for many reasons. i just want to reiterate that i was originally told that the city allowed decorative plantings- that’s why we did the boxes and the mulch and the pavingstone paths and the pretty trellisses for the tomatoes and peas. we would have been happy with a plain garden, but we were trying to be in compliance with the city’s original information to us.

    we really were never looking to prove a point or to champion a cause- we just wanted a cool garden where the kids could help grow some food. so, i’m sad that the city wants to take this to trial. in addition to wasting taxpayer dollars, i think they are missing an incredible opportunity to get up to speed with the rest of the country and participate in a great project.

    we all hope it gets resolved soon and without additional aggravation on anyone’s part. thanks again for your well thought-out comments- julie

  17. thegardenrenegade
    Jun 30, 2011 @ 16:14:39

    thanks, candice- you rock!! please continue to follow our story, and let us know what you think. be well- julie

  18. Me
    Jun 30, 2011 @ 17:37:07

    Create a facebook fan page!!!!

  19. DG
    Jun 30, 2011 @ 17:44:54

    There is case law supporting you position from Grosse POinte Farms from the early ’70’s. I don’t recall the year. All I know is GPF lost.

  20. Ken
    Jun 30, 2011 @ 20:16:10

    I have the DVD Home grown Revolution if you need to use it.

  21. thegardenrenegade
    Jun 30, 2011 @ 20:36:14

    thanks- i will try to check into that. be well- julie

  22. thegardenrenegade
    Jun 30, 2011 @ 20:38:13

    ahhhh- i wish i wasn’t such a luddite when it comes to technology! i have a friend who offered to make me a page, but she just had a baby like 7 minutes ago (ok, really 7 days ago, but that’s still pretty new!), so it might take a few days to get up and running. then there is the small matter that i have no idea what to do with a facebook page, but i’m sure my kids will help me 🙂 take care- julie

  23. mike
    Jun 30, 2011 @ 23:26:31

    dont give up on this fight, there is absolutly no reason why you should not have the right to grow veggies in your front yard, I live in michigan not oak park but I have tomatoes and green peppers planted in my front yard, seriously if somone has an issue with veggies they should not be in America, the land of the free, look up jury nullification I dont know if it will apply to your case but it seems like it should if you are going through a jury trial, if you have a lawyer ask him/her about it, pleas dont let this idiocy stop your right to life liberty and the persuit of happiness, if it is money they want to waste make em waste it.

  24. Michelle Tonnemacher
    Jul 01, 2011 @ 00:01:44

    Hi Julie.
    I was appalled when I heard about this on a local station in Grand Rapids. . . the west side of Michigan. I’ve already shared on Facebook and am sending the City of Oak Park a picture of MY neighborhood street. . . where it IS common to find a vegetable garden filling the front yard. I wish I knew how to send a picture of mine to you. It’s a wonderful thing and I have people stopping by my garden every day to comment how great it looks and how they enjoy watching it grow, flower, and produce food. We can’t have fences over a certain height, but we have all managed to do something to keep it contained. We do have one house who has their garden surrounded by a rock garden. . . also a house on my street has a rock garden front yard. It does not look horrendous. The reason we all chose the front yard is because we have trees in the back yard that does not permit much sun to come through. I will pray for an opening of the city’s mind and eyes to something other than a wasteful lawn of green grass. Best wishes to you.

  25. Michelle
    Jul 01, 2011 @ 00:21:16

  26. Brenda
    Jul 01, 2011 @ 11:40:40

    I heard your story on the news. I am so sorry for your trouble and your garden looks fabulous.

    I’m praying that the city will drop the charges, it is so ridiculous. Didn’t they read the article about urban farming just last week in the Detroit News?

  27. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 01, 2011 @ 11:57:52

    thank you, brenda. i’m guessing they did not read that article, nor the article in metro parent magazine, nor the hundreds of other articles from around the country talking about the benefits of individual families growing some of their own food. that aside, thank you for the nice compliment! -julie

  28. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 01, 2011 @ 12:02:01

    thank you SO much for spreading the word, michelle! it has been an amazing thing for the kids in the neighborhood to be able to come over and help and watch the whole gardening process. if you don’t mind, could you let me know what radio station you heard it on? i am so curious what people are saying about our case! it is wonderful to have a garden- and i hope the city sees that really soon! i really appreciate your supprt- all the best- julie

  29. Pat Williams
    Jul 01, 2011 @ 12:12:18

    I see that a number of individuals have talked about “suitable” from a definition standard. There is also a constitutional requirement that ordinances not be vague – “[T]he terms of a penal statute […] must be sufficiently explicit to inform those who are subject to it what conduct on their part will render them liable to its penalties… and a statute which either forbids or requires the doing of an act in terms so vague that men of common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ as to its application violates the first essential of due process of law.” Connally v. General Construction Co., 269 U.S. 385 (1926). You might want to contact a local attorney to check this out.

  30. Lauren
    Jul 01, 2011 @ 12:27:44

    I heard about your blog on facebook. My support and congratulations go out to you. Keep fighting for your right to grow food where you want it. You may also want to contact your local Slow Food chapter, as well as any other local food movement you have in Mich.

    Stay strong and know you have the support of many around the country.

  31. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 01, 2011 @ 13:03:12

    thank you mike- we don’t intend to just give up- we are hoping we can reach a solution that will protect people in the future from the city having random crackdowns from their non-specific rules. glad you are reading the blog. be well- julie

  32. cobright
    Jul 01, 2011 @ 15:37:24

    Bud– You make exactly one salient point, but it’s a good one.

    Julie, you have plans for the mulch pathways right? I just figured the woodchips were down because of the damage to the lawn from repairing the sewer pipe.

    Bud, you do not need to wonder what Julie’s garden is doing to the property value of her neighbors. There are people who’s occupation it is to deduce such things. However, that issue is irrelevant.

    There is no law saying that one may not indirectly influence the property value of one’s neighbors. There are laws prohibiting specific actions which have been passed for this reason, but we regulate actions not outcomes. If my neighbor gives birth to sextuplets, my property value takes a dip. That outcome has zero effect on the legality of having children. Some senior communities stipulate bylaws against having children on your property, it is those bylaws which make the action illegal.

    Long story short …If there is not a law declaring something illegal, then it is not. If it is not illegal to have 100k x-mas lights burning all night long then it is not illegal, even if it makes someone else feel bad. If you feel it should be illegal then propose a law.

    There is no right to never be offended by the actions of your neighbors.

  33. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 01, 2011 @ 16:32:48

    well said, cobright!!! -julie

  34. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 01, 2011 @ 16:41:48

    thank you very much, lauren. i’m happy this blog is going out to people who care. have a great weekend- julie

  35. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 01, 2011 @ 16:42:58

    beautiful cite!!! thanks for the free legal research 😉 we are actually already on that, but it’s cool to know i have so many smart people reading my blog!! cheers- julie

  36. Michelle
    Jul 01, 2011 @ 23:24:05

    It was on WXMI Fox 17 10:00 pm news, but I can not find a reference to it on their website. http://www.fox17online.com/

  37. karl
    Jul 02, 2011 @ 05:35:58

    say u on the news.bummer.like your idea.have u tried planting hostas and putting wood chips all around the veg.garden.the city gives out free wood chips all summer.i could give u tons of hostas.they are super easy to divide.

  38. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 02, 2011 @ 22:46:13

    hi karl- we actually have woodchips all around the beds now- so i like your idea! as far as the hostas, it’s about all i can manage to keep the veggies alive 🙂 thanks for stopping by the blog, and i hope you’ll come back to check in. take care- julie

  39. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 02, 2011 @ 22:48:21

    thanks for letting us know. i am always curious about what people have to say about us 🙂 hope it was favorable… be well- julie

  40. Yehudit Lindblom
    Jul 03, 2011 @ 14:17:13

    Julie, I want to wish you good luck in fighting the city on this! It sounds like a great idea. (By the way, I grew up kitty-corner to you, and my younger sister and your youngest sister were best friends… I live in Israel now :-))

  41. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 03, 2011 @ 15:34:01

    yep- i know exactly who you are! (it helps that i am looking at your email address!). thanks for your good wishes, and i hope you are doing well- julie

  42. K.B.
    Jul 03, 2011 @ 16:38:11

    While you are looking up those sites, you might want to also spend some time researching the controversy the Dervaes are causing with their patents on terms like “urban homestead”.

    You know, about their sending miscreants like bloggers and authors and farmer’s markets and (gasp!) public libraries cease-and-desist letters over the use of that term, which has been in the public sphere for over a century.

    Seems to me, the Dervaes are doing something exactly like the city of Oak Park here.

    Julie, I don’t mean to co-opt your blog, but I cannot let this comment go unchallenged, since using the Dervaes as a source of inspiration in your fight is incredibly ironic!

    I wish you the best, and I’ll follow your fight with interest!

  43. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 03, 2011 @ 18:20:47

    thanks, K.B. i’m a bit confused about the thread of what you are responding to, but i will appreciate that you are here offering support. thanks! -julie

  44. Erin
    Jul 04, 2011 @ 00:32:14

    We went through something similar when we erected raised beds in our front yard. Code enforcement was called multiple times, and we received multiple warnings…the city was claiming our raised beds were ‘structures’ and needed permits, then they needed a resistant coating to prevent them from rot because they were ‘structures’, on, and on. My next door neighbor was the worst offender and kept making complaints. We were betting visit every 6 weeks or so, for something else we needed to correct….

    Luckily, we received only warnings, and were able to comply in roundabout ways (enough to satisfy the city – though the neighbor kept complaining). Finally, and nearly 2 years later, we don’t get any more visits by code, and my neighbor has given up her battle. We get so many compliments from folks walking by, and have visitors that walk our way just to see the garden.

    I was driven to tears on multiple occasions out of sheer frustration at the city, as well as my neighbor. I understand the plight entirely.

    Of course, I suggest you hang in there and keep your chin up. You are on the right side of the argument. Maybe our story will give you some hope, which sometimes is all you need.

    One thing that may have helped our garden was creating a surround of perennials around the beds, ‘shielding’ the view of the unsightly veggies. 🙂

    Here are some pics I’ve taken over time, thought you might enjoy:


    Blessings, and best of Luck. I’ll be following.

    ~The Golden Poppy

  45. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 04, 2011 @ 11:41:47

    wow- your garden is beautiful!! your beds look similar to ours, although yours may be a bit deeper. happily, making “structures” is one argument the city hasn’t thrown at us yet (but maybe soon, since i know that they were checking this blog at one time…). if that ever comes up, i think i will suggest putting a jacuzzi bathtub next to it, and perhaps some additional closet space for my husband. we have always wanted more living space. i’m sure ryan could probably handle the project- he seems like he can pretty much do anything! hahahaha- in all seriousness, though, i am soooooooooo sorry about what you went through- i don’t know if i could have a close neighbor harassing me, or if i could play games with the city for 2 years- ugh! i’m glad you got it sorted out, and enjoy your amazing garden! hope lots of my blog readers will take a look. happy fourth! -julie

  46. Colleen Vanderlinden
    Jul 05, 2011 @ 09:32:49

    Hi Julie,

    I just heard about your situation — ridiculous!! I’m a garden writer from Harper Woods, and the author of two books about edible gardening. I wrote to the city of Oak Park in support of your garden. I hope they change their mind. Your garden is beautiful!

    Colleen Vanderlinden

  47. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 05, 2011 @ 12:40:54

    yay!!! i will look forward to reading your books, and thanks for your support! -julie

  48. Sandy Swanson
    Jul 06, 2011 @ 13:00:56

    Hi Julie – just read about your story on kitchengardener. Ridiculous. I wrote Kevin R. a very nice email, and would like to fwd it to you if possible! Best of luck to you,

    Sandy S.

  49. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 06, 2011 @ 14:10:13

    yes, please- i would love a copy ot the email! (i will send you my email address privately) thanks, and way to go!

  50. Andrew S
    Jul 06, 2011 @ 14:22:53

    Heard about your blog from your FIL and came to say hello and good luck. Will take time to read it all. Best regards. Andrew (Hubby’s friend – London)

  51. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 06, 2011 @ 15:38:11

    thank you! and best regards back. cheer-i-o then! -julie

  52. Paula
    Jul 06, 2011 @ 20:52:26

    Julie, Sorry to read about your lawsuit. Edible landscaping is one of the hottest trends in gardening right now; at least in CA and we take our gardening here seriously. The San Francisco Flower and Garden Show, one of the countries largest, had over 6000 square feet of edible landscaping demo gardens this year and Santa Rosa is the home of The National Heirloom Exposition. So it is a shock to see how different (and outrageous) opinions are in Oak Park. I will send a letter in support of your garden, Perhaps you should also consider getting in touch with some of the leaders in the edible landscaping movement. Maybe they can help get the word out or offer support. Here are some places to start:

    http://www.rosalindcreasy.com/ If you don’t have her book, Edible Landscaping, it is a must read… think of it as the edible landscaping bible. You can also contact her through this website. I would start here, she is one of the most recognized names in Edible Landscaping in the country.

    http://www.commongroundinpaloalto.org/ Check out the bios of the instructors who teach their classes.

    http://www.starappleediblegardens.com/ A very innovative landscape architecture company focusing on edible landscaping… and one of their founders was an attorney.

    Best of luck. I will be rooting for you from the West Coast.

  53. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 06, 2011 @ 21:06:10

    thanks for the great resources- i forwarded them on to my attorney. thanks for taking the time to write; it means a lot. -julie

  54. Jason
    Jul 07, 2011 @ 13:36:25

    Read about this on fark.com, what the city is doing is absolutely ridiculous. Edible front yard gardening is a legitimate and increasingly common way of growing veggies. TIME even ran an article on it. Wish you luck, keep up the fight!


  55. Moe
    Jul 07, 2011 @ 16:58:54

    Hi I live in Florida and we have code ENFORCEMENT nazi’s here too they are overpaid, city/ county workers that drive around in brand new trucks wasting gas and fine citizens for lawn being to tall or fixing your own car.. etc I could understand a health or safety violation but tall grass? garden? Unfortunately in this economy the city/county can’t see that these code enforcement are a burden on our town.

    Here is a similar incident…

    Also check out. my hometown!!


  56. Sandy
    Jul 07, 2011 @ 17:00:25

    Was thinking more about your situation, and think you should contact Michelle Obama. She was the one to re-introduce the veggie garden on the south lawn of the White House (very visible from the sidewalk, btw)!


    For those saying it looks like a New Orleans Cemetery (which I think is very beautiful, but I guess I’m entitled to my opinion aren’t I?), maybe introduce them to the old gardener’s adage: The first year it sleeps, the second year it creeps, the third year it leaps! These things take time. Aesthetics and personal opinions aside, shame on those not who don’t have the brain power to understand this. I guess that’s the society we live in – everything must be faster, louder, higher. Sad. 😦

  57. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 07, 2011 @ 18:28:03

    yep, makes me sad, too- and i really don’t see the resemblence to a new orleans cemetery… oh well- onward and upward!

  58. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 07, 2011 @ 18:30:03

    well, moe- all i can do today is sigh… and spend a lot of time playing with my kids instead of stressing over oak park’s strange war on my garden…

  59. JustSomeGuy
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 09:08:36

    It appears that nominations for your city’s “Beautification Annual” are due the day before your court date (http://www.oakpark-mi.com/public_works/page03.asp). You can nominate yourself. Seem a nomination drive is also in order?….

  60. Victory Gardens
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 10:07:35

  61. mike
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 11:13:47

    I’m right across the road (more or less) in Huntington Woods, where we have a LOT of non-traditional front yards. I’m sending emails to the appropriate OP officials and encouraging people to do so on my blogs, too. And I think I’m going to be planting vegetables in my front yard next year. (And you’re absolutely right about homemade vinaigrette.)

  62. Gene
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 11:59:27

    This is just another example, among hundreds, of power-mad government officials who have no respect for the rights of citizens. These folks would fit in quite nicely in third-world dictatorships. It just sucks that there are people that are so consumed with their desire to control…so consumed with authoritarianism that they forget the meaning of freedom and liberty…and so full of their own self-righteous worldview, that they fail to see the beauty and sensitivity of folks like you who are simply trying to make a better world for themselves, their family, and their community.

    …unfortunately, the evil people are winning and freedom and liberty are dying in America.

  63. Andrew
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 12:11:01

    I just found out about your story. I have to say I can not understand it. It is one thing that I feel that anyone should be able to do. I want you to know that I support you 100% and have contacted the City Council and Kevin Rulkowski. Giving them an idea that maybe what you have done could actually be good for neighborhoods and asking them to support you.

  64. Mars Psymons
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 13:05:12

  65. Steve
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 13:24:45

    Hi Julie!

    I had an idea for possibly resolving your conflict favorably with the city after reading Bud’s comments. Perhaps after the city officials have felt the intensity of public outrage and realized the stupidity of their actions, they will be looking for an “out” and might be open to some kind solution involving some minimal change to your garden that looks like a compromise and allows the city to save face while allowing you to keep your garden pretty much as it is. Perhaps your lawyer could approach them with an offer that you would be willing to make some cosmetic changes to your front yard garden (say, a little more ground cover vegetation or more grass between the planting boxes), allowing the city to say that you now comply with their regulations.

  66. Randy
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 14:45:01

    From one front yard garden grower to another, this is absolutely ridiculous! I just saw your story on Drudgereport, and I can’t stop thinking about what a bad PR move this was. Give a non-elected official just enough power, let it go to their head, and this is what you get. To me this isn’t so much a “they hate veggies” issue as it is an absolute trampling of your property rights. There is nothing that Kevin Rulkowski stated that in any way makes you in violation of city codes. Besides, who on earth uses Websters Dictionary to justify code terminology? Sheesh!

    btw, my tomatoes are doing quite lovely in my FRONT yard, and my Okra, Tomatillos, Cilantro, Jalapenos, Basil and Lettuce is following nicely behind 🙂

    Randy in Champaign

  67. Janna
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 14:55:13

    Does the city truly feel that they can break down a women that has 6 children, a husband and two dogs? Hahaha, those silly city workers! First of all a big supporting hug, I’m a mom that has 6 children oh make that seven including my husband ( Joking well maybe not but whatever 😉 two dogs and no time for nonsense. In saying this my friend if you need anything feel free to contact me for we all must stand togeather and show and teach are children how to fight for what is right. God bless

  68. David Gomes
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 14:55:19

    Your garden is beautiful, you’ll win in court, I’m sure your lawyer can prove vegetables are “appropriate” plants. I’ve always been a vegetable gardener, it seems like one of the most basic human rights, Aloha, Dave Gomes

  69. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 15:02:28

    you never know. they keep changing their minds about what they want, so i guess it will be between them and my lawyer… so sad… thanks, steve

  70. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 15:04:29

    got the book- loving the first few chapters. thanks- julie

  71. Steve
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 15:12:49

    Julie, you and your family should be commended, not persecuted. Your city should honor your efforts and seek to multiply them. The very real and serious issues of climate change and peak oil are threats to the security and future of our society. Your garden represents one of the best solutions to address both.

    As you’ve said, it’s healthy and educational (in a very good way). If I were looking for a community in which to purchase a home and had a choice, I would much rather live where people are practical and resourceful, where land is used to support and nurture life and where local food production is encouraged and readily available. In my view your efforts are raising property values and creating a more desirable neighborhood.

    The myopic officials who are giving you grief risk opening a Pandora’s box. Many citizens have had enough. They understand the risks to our food supply and the effect of ever-rising costs. They’re tired of nutrient-depleted, tasteless veggies that are often shipped thousands of miles, full of pesticides or that are genetically-engineered travesties of unnatural selection.

    May your ordeal turn into a revolt that not only prevails, but that sparks a positive change in the laws of your city that will actually encourage gardens and expand the options available to urban homesteaders. May you someday have goats and chickens and the compost they’ll create (I support your right to raise animals even though I’m a vegan). In other words, may you someday have the right to partake in basic human endeavors that have been a part of our existence since we first appeared on this planet. I think that falls under the category of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    Thank you for doing the right thing. It’s people like you who are leading the way to a sustainable future that we can all live with.

  72. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 15:27:36

    what a beautiful comment, steve. you warmed my heart! -julie

  73. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 15:30:20

    aloha to you too, dave! 🙂

  74. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 15:31:22

    thank you, fellow mommy! what a great point you made- i should forward that on to my teenagers; i don’t know if they got the memo-hahahahaha!

  75. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 15:31:59

    oooooooooooooh, yum- maybe we’ll come eat at your house some time 🙂

  76. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 15:53:08

    thank you, thank you!

  77. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 15:54:56

    hopefully not in oak park!!

  78. Bill Reece
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 16:26:30

    To: gnaftaly@att.net; paul4oakpark@yahoo.com; rfox@ci.oak-park.mi.us; duplessis2@aol.com

    Subj: Julie Bass

    Please let this lady grow her garden!

    How embarrassing for your town!

    Our whole free country is outraged at you for having such a silly law and for enforcing it during such hard times.

    You better not even consider putting her in jail!

    Please, just stop and think about what you are doing. Reconsider your outlook on this matter. We are in a recession and this health minded minded citizen is willing to work a garden for healthy food. She is a wonderful example to us all. Just like our First Lady!!!!!! hello!?

    DON’T BE FOOLS!!!!!

    and yes, I have a garden. And it might be in my front yard next year!

    Bill Reece

    3207 College Dr

    Louisville, KY 40299

  79. Steve
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 16:56:33

    You’re welcome Julie. I did a bit of editing and turned it into an email, then sent it to the mayor, council members and city planner. I’ve copied it below FYI but you don’t have to approve this comment. I just didn’t have an email address for you. Good luck!

    From: Steve Rypka [mailto:steve@greendream.biz]
    Sent: Friday, July 08, 2011 1:49 PM
    To: ‘gnaftaly@att.net’; ‘mmseligson@comcast.net’; ‘adjack@comcast.net’; ‘paul4oakpark@yahoo.com’; ‘duplessis2@aol.com’
    Cc: ‘krulkowski@ci.oak-park.mi.us’
    Subject: In Support of Julie Bass’ Garden

    Dear Mayor Naftaly and City of Oak Park Council Members:

    I live in Henderson, NV and found out about Julie Bass and her garden on Facebook. I do not know Julie Bass and this letter is completely unsolicited. I am a green living consultant and write a Green Living column published in the Las Vegas Review Journal every other week. Please allow me to share some comments about Mrs. Bass’ garden.

    It is my strong opinion that Mrs. Bass and her family should be commended, not persecuted. Your city should honor their efforts and seek to multiply them. The very real and serious issues of climate change and peak oil are threats to the security and future of our society, including your city. Urban gardens represent one of the best solutions to address both.

    An urban garden, especially one that is readily visible, is not only healthy but educational (in a very good way). If I were looking for a community in which to purchase a home and had a choice, I would much rather live where people are practical and resourceful, where land is used to support and nurture life and where local food production is encouraged and readily available. In my view her efforts are raising property values and creating a more desirable neighborhood.

    As city officials, you risk opening a Pandora’s box. Why not take the path of inspired leadership and shift the focus toward greater security, improved health and positive neighborhood values for all the people of Oak Park? Many citizens have had enough. They understand the risks to our food supply and the effect of ever-rising costs. They’re tired of nutrient-depleted, tasteless veggies that are often shipped thousands of miles, full of pesticides or that are genetically-engineered travesties of unnatural selection.

    I invite you to consider turning this issue into positive change by creating new laws in your city that will actually encourage gardens and expand the options available to urban homesteaders. In other words, may your community someday support the rights of citizens to partake in this most basic of human endeavors, the personal production of healthy food, that has been a natural part of our existence since civilization first appeared on this planet. I think that falls under the category of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    Thank you for your time and for considering doing the right thing. It’s people like Julie Bass who are leading the way to a sustainable future that we can all live with. We need leaders with vision to support them. I would love to write a column about leaders like that!

    Best regards,

    Steve Rypka

    Green Living Consulting
    Clean Energy – Green Building – Alternative Transportation – Lifestyle Choices
    Helping people live lighter on the planet.
    Generated with clean, fresh 100% solar energy harvested in Nevada.

  80. korypryor
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 18:28:10

    Read an article about your dilemma today and wrote the following email to Kevin Rulkowski (sic?):


    After reading an article on code enforcement of Oak Park with respect to the planting of live vegetable plants in Ms. Bass’ front yard I was really taken aback, but still, I guess not surprised in this day and age.

    The article I read quoted you as saying:

    “If you look at the dictionary, suitable means common. You can look all throughout the city and you’ll never find another vegetable garden that consumes the entire front yard.”

    First, “suitable” has many meanings, but “common” seems to be a stretch. See the following link: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/suitable

    Rather than bring charges against this woman, why not work with her? Why not allow for this vis-à-vis a change of your applicable code to ensure proper aesthetics can still be maintained. The thought that someone in this country should not be able to grow a modest amount of food for themselves on their own land seems to cut against everything this nation was built upon. I understand Oak Park’s need to establish uniformity but there must be some middle ground. I hope you realize that prosecution of this action is simply the most ridiculous, bizarre result. Certainly no one will win if this path is taken to its logical completion. Not the homeowner, not the city of Oak Park, and certainly not you or the prosecuting attorney.

    Find a solution. Compromise and peace is often harder to accomplish than conflict and polarization – rise to that challenge.

  81. michael harris
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 18:35:01

    if you add a legal defense donation button to your blog, i will donate and encourage everyone i know to donate as well.

    my mom has had a garden in front of her suburban home for years and if anyone put her through this nonsense, i would flip out. she sent me a link to your story today and it has been all i can think about.

    regards, mike

  82. Keith Lawler
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 18:49:43

    I have put this on the FB page, and wanted to share it here. Please feel free to put it on your blog. Here is the original FB wall post:

    The City of Oak Park, MI obviously lacks an understanding of the importance of home gardening, and that they should cultivate good relationships with their own gardeners.

    I for one, am going to take personal action to educate them on this subject, and I am going to encourage everyone else to join me in this effort.

    I am shipping them 1 jar of blue ribbon award winning, homegrown and homemade raspberry jam.

    And I am sending it to:
    The City of Oak Park Michigan
    13600 Oak Park Boulevard,
    Oak Park, MI 48237
    Attn: The City Council

  83. Chris Fontes
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 19:23:41

    I think someone in the area (I am in California, otherwise I would SO do this) needs to organize people in town and have them plant at least ONE vegetable in their front yard. If you can get enough people to do so, then by definition, your garden would be “suitable” (common, as the jerk– I mean, code enforcer stated).

    It would really burn him up if you walk away scott free… it would be even better if you WIN by getting others to do the very thing that he doesn’t like!

  84. Erica F
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 19:25:47

    To: gnaftaly@att.net

    This is an email I sent to your city planner. I must say this makes Oak Park look sadly behind the times. Vancouver just released their blueprint to become the “greenest city” by 2020, a notable part of which includes support for urban farms and training citizens in growing food. You should be celebrating people like Julie Bass, not slapping her with a ticket.

    – Erica

    — On Fri, 7/8/11, Erica wrote:

    From: Erica
    Subject: Useful Quotes
    To: krulkowski@ci.oak-park.mi.us

    Dear Mr. Rulkowski,

    “Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous and they are tied to their country and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting bands.”

    –Thomas Jefferson, Letter to John Jay (Aug. 23, 1785)

    And this (http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2008/09/is_it_time_to_kill_your_lawn.html):

    “If grass were a food crop, it would be the largest in the United States. Imagine nearly 50,000 square miles of lawn, about the size of Mississippi, often doused in pesticides, fed with chemical fertilizers, protected by weedkillers, drenched in 270 billion gallons of water a week and cut with mowers that emit as much as a third of some types of urban air pollution.

    Since the end of World War II, a perfectly trimmed and watered front lawn has been the homeowner’s declaration of civic responsibility. But several factors — rising food costs, environmental awareness, concerns about food safety and a desire for local food — have caused the pendulum to swing.

    “For many years, our ideal was to have a home with a big lawn,” says Julie Nader, a 73-year-old resident of the Woodhaven subdivision in Sherwood. “Now we know it’s ridiculous to pour all this water and fertilizer on it.”

    So this weekend, Nader joins a new American lawn ritual. She plans to rip out her green grass and replace it with herbs.”

    And this: http://michaelpollan.com/articles-archive/why-mow-the-case-against-lawns/

    Oak Park needs to get with the program…


  85. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 20:10:07

    oh, yum- i’m so jealous of the folks in city hall! 🙂
    thanks for your support, and i would LOVE your jam recipe…- julie

  86. Arvind
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 20:14:19

    I looked up the meaning of ‘suitable’ in Webster’s dictionary at http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/suitable .

    The prosecutor lied about Webster’s dictionary. It says nothing about ‘common.’ It is the OPPOSITE if you read it. The usage is in specific situations. You should sue him and destroy his career, not merely defend yourself. He wants to make money for himself by robbing honest people.

    Also, Merriam Webster – http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/suitable – says “adapted to a use or purpose.” Again, that means ‘specific’ which is the opposite of ‘common.’

  87. Tom
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 20:40:40

    Do you need financial donations. Don’t have a lot but I hate these types of government busybodies. By the way at my old house, I’m no longer a home owner. I planted green onions, lettuce and small melons in my front gardens.

  88. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 20:45:22

    hi tom- we are working with our attorney to get something set up just to cover actual costs. trying to decide a way to do it that this is not going to even look like some icky money-making scheme. stay tuned; i will post on the blog when we get something up and running. thank you! -julie

  89. Tracy P.I.
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 21:17:19

    Your story reached Australia thanks to facebook, lol. Here’s my blog post on your story. http://civilinvestigationsaustralia.info/?p=460 hope you enjoy it, lol.

  90. L. Sull
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 21:18:59

    I sent this to your city planner at his email address here:


    It is truely a shame that they are wasting their budget pursuing things like this when there are far more pressing issues. I hope that all charges are dropped and that you are not held liable for incurred legal fees.

    Dear Mr Rulkowski,

    While I may not be a resident of your city, I did hear about the ordeal. It seems outrageous that with the amount of issues present in America as of late, that you would go out of your way just to press charges against one of your tax payers. Being a suburb of Detroit, one would imagine that things such as assult, robbery, burglury, and rape, which from a brief time spent researching your city, are moderately high. As well, unemployment happens to be well above the national average. While you waste time, resources, and revenue attempting to asert your authoritarian rule over someone, whom based on your own rules, has done nothing wrong, the majority of the real problems your city faces are more serious.

    My basis that Ms. Bass has done nothing wrong based on your own rules are as follows:

    (I am sure you have already heard that suitable does not mean common, even in Webster’s Dictionary)


    You claim Ms. Bass may not grow vegetables in her lawn.


    “If you look at the dictionary, suitable means common. You can look all throughout the city and you’ll never find another vegetable garden that consumes the entire front yard.”


    The primary definition of a vegetable is a plant. You specify that flowers, trees, bushes, and grass are okay. These are also vegetables.

    While, I do not expect a reply, I sincerely hope that you realize just how childish and petty you are for attempting to enforce a code that has minimal impact on the way your city is run.


    L. Sull

  91. Thomas
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 23:03:27

    Fight on fellow front yard farmer! As many of the other commenters have noted the Webster’s dictionary doesn’t really define suitable as that which is common. But who cares, I rather like the made up suitable = common definition. It also gives us a great way to undermine the city’s already flimsy argument. Let’s make front yard gardens commonplace!

    It sounds like you have some sympathetic neighbors. Perhaps one or two would be willing to plant front yard gardens of their own as a show of support and as a way to demonstrate that you aren’t the only one. And if one or two do it then three or four more might find the courage to follow them. Sure, nobody wants the same kind of hassle that you’re going through, but they can’t hassle everyone if everyone starts front yard gardening. A few people with a little courage inspire more courage from others until the city is up to its eyeballs with delicious, healthy and affordable fresh food.

    By the way, do you have any idea how much it would cost the state to incarcerate you for 93 days? How many front yard gardens could we build for that kind of money? Let’s try to raise that exact amount of money and offer it to your neighbors to cover supplies. They wouldn’t have to start a big garden, just a small victory garden as a show of support, it could even be an easily movable potted garden so that they have an easy solution to remove it if they start getting hassled.

    I’m sending a very friendly but firm e-mail to the relevant city officials. I’m confident they’ll listen to reason, we it’s important that we give them a chance to save face. One way of doing that would be to make Oak Park the capital of front yard gardening. You could be in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most front yard gardens per capita.

    Take heart!

  92. Thomas
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 23:08:16

    Oh, also Webster’s Online Dictionary has this totally neato feature that shows you how popular each word is. Did you know that right now the word “suitable” is the second most looked up word within the last 24 hours? You can check it out here: http://www.merriam-webster.com/popular-words/index.htm

    From their website:
    “Suitable is currently in the top 1% of lookups and is the 55th most popular word on Merriam-Webster.com. A green arrow indicates a fast mover: this word increased significantly in lookups over the past seven days.”

    Sounds like your story is really generating some interest. Keep fighting the good fight!

  93. Cogitator
    Jul 08, 2011 @ 23:24:10

    Kakistocracy is the word that describes the government of Oak Park. Come to think of it it describes governments everywhere. See: http://kakistocracy.info

    Why waste yard space for grass that cannot be eaten by any grazing animal because they are illegal to have in that town, and only wastes water, one of our most precious and scarce resources? Instead the space can be used to grow good nutritional food. We are coming to the day, when everyone will be trying to grow food in whatever yard space they have.

  94. Random Aussie
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 00:34:21

    Good on you for being selfish! It’s your lawn, who cares if some of your neighbours are offended and unhappy. They can complain to the authorities if they don’t like it. If you fight the authorities you will be the bad guy because you will be the one costing taxpayers money.

    In a society that properly allows selfishness they can exclude you from events and get those of a similar mindset to exclude you from their events too. They can say things like “Boycott the woman with the ugly front yard!” have businesses discriminate against you, etc. You would only associate with those who support you and only if the majority of people are against you would you suffer much hardship.

  95. snoodledoodles
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 01:14:30

    Hey Julie–
    A very sweet gentleman from Puerto Rico was reading my blog and apparently thought I was you so he sent me a sweet, encouraging email. I would love to forward it to you but can’t seem to find an email addy for you (I can’t imagine why! HA) If you would like me to forward it to you, please email me at snoodledoodles@gmail.com and I will be happy to send it out straight away!

  96. Bernard Lucas
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 02:00:12

    Have you heard of the Michigan Right to farm act? We have the right to grow a garden on residential property. This is a very strong law which protects all Michigan residents.Heres an excerpt from the law.
    Sec. 3. (1) A farm or farm operation shall not be found to be a public or private nuisance if the farm or
    farm operation alleged to be a nuisance conforms to generally accepted agricultural and management
    practices according to policy determined by the Michigan commission of agriculture. Generally accepted
    agricultural and management practices shall be reviewed annually by the Michigan commission of agriculture
    and revised as considered necessary.

    Click to access mcl-Act-93-of-1981.pdf

    Keep on growing to your hearts content!

  97. thebardofmurdock
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 02:00:57

    The Oak Park Outlaw

    The scofflaw, Julie Bass,
    Rejected trees and grass,
    And took to life of crime
    With parsley, sage and thyme.

    Her crime is avant garde:
    The beds in her front yard
    Contain illegal greens,
    Like peppers, peas and beans.

    Thank God the planner saw
    Within the public law,
    A means to prosecute
    Before she planted fruit.

    The plaintiff, Kevin R.,
    The Oak Park planning czar,
    Will see the line is towed
    By pointing to the code.

    But folks can misconstrue
    What’s ‘suitable’ to do,
    So Kevin has deferred
    To ‘common’ as his word.

    And what is more unique
    Than cucumber or leek,
    When planted in a bed
    Where grass should grow instead.

    Uncommon as they are
    Outside a mason jar,
    She’ll need to clear her yard
    Of broccoli and chard.

    Then justice will prevail,
    And Oak Park can exhale,
    Devoid of squash and kale,
    With Julie safe in jail.

  98. Joe
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 05:03:43

    While dictionary definitions clearly show Kevin Rulkowski is wrong, do we really need a dictionary in modern day America to figure out that there is something wrong with trying to put someone in jail for growing a veggie garden on their own property? Really??

    Julie, you are a modern-day Rosa Parks, thank you for standing up to the veggie-garden fascists. I hope other liberty-minded Americans grow balls and follow suit and also plant veggie gardens as an act of defiance.

    To the Rulkowski’s of the world: America = Freedom. Got that? This point is Not Negotiable. Our freedom is not up for negotiation. If you cannot handle living in a free country, Cuba and North Korea are that way, I hear they have a skills shortage for petty dictators and will be happy to take you.

  99. Joe
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 05:56:08

    @Bud “Finally, I was wondering… Couldn’t you have avoided all of this headache and planted your garden in the backyard?”

    Yes Bud, and Rosa Parks could’ve avoided a lot of headaches by just standing up like a good nigra woman, dang’it!

    Why is it in today’s America, only women seem to have the stones to fight for justice and rights, while girly-men like “Bud” slink down and spinelessly argue “submit, submit, submit to petty dictatorship”? Grow a set Bud, I think it’s disgusting you let women fight your battles and then still complain that they shouldn’t.

  100. Joe
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 06:00:30

    @ Bud there was a time when people also argued that nigra’s moving into the neighborhood would ‘lower the property values’. Since you believe that liberty should take a backseat to “property values”, I suppose you also believe African Americans should be restricted from living near you? America is a free country and if you don’t like that, leave.

  101. Nikki
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 08:06:56

    Who would have thought that civil disobedience would mean tomato growing in your own yard. As a child of the 60s, it’s baffling to me that the very people who would consider themselves liberal in their social views have no problem telling someone else what to do if it’s asthetically less than pleasing to their taste. And feel vinicated for doing so. Sad. So if you plant a lawn of edible dandelion or wheat grass, is that acceptable? Check out the Dervaese family homestead on Youtube. They’d be in jail if they lived in Oak Park.

  102. Bryan Allan
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 08:50:49

    I just want to share my letter to your mayor:

    Dear Mayor,

    I am writing because of your pursuit of Julie Bass for her front yard vegetable garden. I own a home in Portland, OR with a beautiful formal vegetable garden in the front. Check out the progress in creating my garden and the pictures online: allanfamilygarden.blogspot.com.

    It seems almost silly to enumerate the benefits of a vegetable garden over a grass lawn, but here goes: 1) Saving fossil fuel by not mowing the lawn and by not buying produce trucked 2,000 miles away 2) Food is more wholesome and nutritious when picked ripe and eaten quickly, rather than eating tomatoes picked green and ripened chemically over two weeks 3) Vegetable gardens are beautiful, with a world-wide tradition of kitchen gardens and potagers 4) Working outside in the front yard fosters interaction with your neighbors, builds community and creates a connection in the neighborhood which is perhaps the most important aspect of community gardens 5) There are also numerous environmental benefits as well: no carbon emissions, no chemical usage, etc.

    I do question which dictionary Mr. Rulkowski is using that defines “suitable” as “common.” I can’t find that word association in a thesaurus either. The dictionaries I have consulted define “suitable” as “appropriate, befitting or becoming.” Even if her practice is uncommon for your community, I hardly think that the majority of your residents would hold the standard that Julie’s garden is inappropriate given the many benefits it holds. During WWII, our country encouraged citizens to plant victory gardens for many of the reasons I enumerated above. The First Lady is encouraging vegetable gardens. Your city’s action against Julie is simply out of touch and un-American.

    Oak Park really is taking the idea of a nanny state to a whole new level. I do hope that you come to your senses.


    Bryan Allan

  103. Elsah Cort, RN
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 11:34:01

    Just posted a link on your facebook page to this Urban Homestead, a home that has vegetables growing all over its property in Pasadena CA. Thought you might want to see what those folks have done, and who knows, maybe they can rally some help for you. See urbanhomestead.org

  104. Gina CA
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 12:13:53

    Hello and here is some more support for you and your Family. Good luck with the City where you live and all the draconian laws.



  105. Carolyn Harvey
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 12:41:57

    How extraordinarily articulate you are!! Thanks for this message of support to Julie and her family!

  106. Stefano
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 13:06:46

    Good for you. Stuff like this is why I am a libertarian.

  107. Sura Weiss
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 13:18:41

    Yasher Koach Julie,

    Saw your story on Time’s The Cheapskate Blog. I live in Los Angeles’ westside. Two years ago I removed my tiny front lawn (Calendula ground cover and no grass). In my front I have planted mostly California native plants, ones that are low water users and tolerant of the sun/shade (meadow/woodland) conditions in my front. And an artichoke plant in the one really sunny spot. I did leave the beautiful old Bird of Paradise though. My neighbor across the street had done it 2 years earlier and I loved what he did. This year another neighbor killed his front and back grass and did it too, although his is not strictly native. So that is three. Two blocks from me is a sunny front yard that is all vegetables and herbs. Mine has too much shade.

    I plant my vegetables and fruits in the back because that is where I have the sun. Only reason. I grow Cymbidiums (under shade cloth) and dwarf citrus (full sun) in pots on my driveway. I don’t know what your sun issue is.

    Our City regulations state that the parkway (tree lawn) cannot be paved over and should be planted with grass. Well, mine is not, and at least 5 others on my block have no lawn, but no one has complained to the City yet. Were you reported by a neighbor? Do you know? My neighbors reported my wild bee hive and I had to remove it. I found other urban beekeepers to move the brood and adopt them. Surely the District Attorney has better crimes to seek out than flagrant front yard gardening.

    Another neighborhood yard I have seen with substantial raised front beds in half the yard, has built-in seating around the beds, and planted fruit trees also. Very lovely. And a nice Concord Grape arbor could double as a year round natural Sukkah.

    Best of luck, and haven’t they heard of Victory Gardens?

  108. Carolyn Harvey
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 13:23:34

    If you do set up a legal defense fund, any extra money you receive could go toward establishing a community garden in a vacant lot, or a local food bank. I can’t see any of your supporters (or non-supporters, for that matter!) objecting to either of those.

  109. bobby labonte
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 14:41:47

    hey i heard your story from growing your greens.com i find i completly stupid what the city is pushing on you. i give you my support and prayers. long live freedom gardening 😛

  110. ronnierayjenkins
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 15:31:23

    I’m gonna write you a ballad.

    Ronnie Ray Jenkins

  111. Robert S. Kissel
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 16:15:44

    Just wanted to let you know, from Hamden, Connecticut, that I am chagrined to learn of your predicament, and unless there’s something else you’re doing that I’m not seeing in the various photos and news reports, I’m exceedingly puzzled that any of your neighbors would have complained to the city about the appearance of your front yard, or about your wish to utilize it for the purpose of growing some of your vegetables, and quite furious that morons in the city government thought this was a matter on which it was worth wasting time, money and effort. For what it’s worth, your story fell on sympathetic ears out here.

  112. Vegetable Garden Cook
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 16:35:37

    Well this Oak Park vegetable gardener certainly got my attention! The story is pretty absurd. I’ll be making calls to raise attention. Thanks for getting the story out. Please check out my blog and perhaps consider adding me to your blogroll… I think you’ll see we have a lot in common!

  113. Fellow Gardener
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 17:01:46

    Gardening is nothing without a compost pile. So start one out front next to your beautiful garden.

    Buy a horse, and a Lawn Jockey to kick it off. Tie your horse to the Jockey to prevent the neighbors from complaining about it wandering around the neighborhood eating their grass. Horses like to roam a lot, so you might need two Jockeys placed at opposite ends of your yard, so you can exercise and move the horse around.

    The best part of this plan is that tomatoes really love horse remains and will reward you with a fantastic harvest. You’ll be amazed at the results.
    The vines will be huge and you can share your large crop with neighbors, friends, judges, prosecutors and jurors during your day in court. Tomato sandwiches during lunch break at the trial for everyone!

    I’ve got the same setup here with compost and gardens, but I don’t have your headaches with neighbors complaining. Certain urban areas are a catalyst to protective, controlling mindsets. Would you agree? It’s the hassle that comes with the turf of urban living. It’s why I don’t choose to live in an area with heavy-handed zoning and HOA enforcement from zealous neighbors with an agenda. Under a lot of circumstances, neighbors can have more control than you do about what you can do on your own property. This applies to a lot of things in life (other than real estate) and it is simply wrong. If I want a blue garage door, I should be able to paint it blue and not mandated to paint it brown. It’s my stuff. Not yours.

    In fact, the world has become so politically correct about what words you say, things you own, items you place in your front yard, etc…. This is simply wrong and the rules about someone’s behavior should not be subjective, or controlled by selected opinions that may be popular among a group of people that has an agenda or belief. Freedom should be freedom. Period. If you want to put a Lawn Jockey, garden, or horse in your front yard, you should be able to do it without being hassled by anyone. However, the world is full of double standards. Wouldn’t you agree? Can you see the picture I’ve painted? I imagine not everyone will favor all my suggestions here. Some things may offend or bother people huh? A normal person without a lot of personal baggage really doesn’t give a hoot about what you do with your life and is happy to let you do whatever pleases you. When it gets right down to it, certain behaviors usually stem from:
    1. Jealousy
    2. Control
    3. Just plain nosiness

    Me? I’m not nosy. Do what you want neighbor. I really don’t care.

    So I’m on your side with this 100% as long as it applies to everything and all circumstances and includes things that may bother some people personally. No double standards. Okay.

    Do you get my drift?

    I love my garden and I wish you all the best with yours and hope you clear the hurdles you face. Gardening is a great way to share food with relatives and friends while staying healthy and keeping in shape. If you were my neighbor, I would share my crops with you. Would you accept this hand holding food if offered?

  114. Rick Hess
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 17:51:31

    Well, well, well. Oak Park and cities like it keep giving city government a bad name. Might I suggest something to add to your lovely front yard veggie garden? Put in a couple of annual flowers in each raised bed, especially the kind that helps keep bugs away. Not only will they add more interest and color to your garden, they will probably make your garden legal in the eyes of the idiots that control (notice I did not say govern) your city.
    When you get to court move for summary judgment and ask for the city to pay your legal bills. This is uncalled for, a waste of your time and resources, and a waste of tax payer resources too. Vote the mayor and council members off as soon as they come up for re-election, work to have the city administrator and any one else who is associated with this debacle.
    Good luck and kick them all to the curb. Oh, and when your tomatoes are nicely ripening, have a couple of extra BLTs…nothing better to satisfy an appetite.
    Rick Hess
    City Administrator
    City of Battlefield, MO

  115. grbarrington
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 18:35:28

    You have a few supporters on another site.
    Follow the link to see their posts.

    I especially like the one with the pictures. Hope they inspire you…


  116. G. Macdonald
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 19:17:53

    Hi, what a wonderful example you are setting, especially considering that your state of Michigan is 9th in the country for obesity rates. Very unsatisfactory, I’m sure you would agree. I know how much work it is to cultivate even a small garden, so I applaud your family. I have sent an email to this city planner, who doesn’t know what “suitable” means (I extended an offer to order a dictionary to be sent directly to him, as he is in desperate need of one), which will go to the mayor as well. Good luck, and should you need to set up a legal fund, I would be honored to contribute.

  117. msdoolittle
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 19:29:01

    As a Master Gardener and a former front yard farmer, I was just sickened by the nonsense you are going through. Six years ago, we ripped out our front and back yard and planted herbs, perennials, and veggies. It seemed to make so much more sense. I could raise food for my family as well as cut WAY back on water usage, and at the same time, beautify my neighborhood. I am sure that while some individuals did not appreciate my efforts, I had so many people stop right in the middle of the street to look and to ask us questions. What you did, whether you realize it yet or not, takes guts! To go against what is considered normal….or should I say common?….really does take a special kind of person. So, I applaud you! As another poster has said, we are on the verge of a huge ‘back to the land’ movement. Some people will NEVER understand NOT having a lawn, and that’s okay. However, I think it is ridiculous and asinine to try and force everyone to have a turfgrass lawn. From what I understand, that’s what it sounds as though they are trying to achieve. And what on earth is ‘decorative planting’? I’d love to hear the definition of that! I’ll be passing on the word down here in Texas, and I fully plan on sending Oak Park city council some nice letters! :0)

  118. Don Gerard
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 19:33:56

    Julie, I would suggest you contact your local Agricultural Extension Agent. The link to MSU Ag is http://msue.anr.msu.edu/msue/agriculture_and_agribusiness
    Also suggest you check to see if there is a Master Gardener organization in your area. Michigan claims to have the largest number of Master Gardeners in the US. The Master Gardener Program here in Texas is associated with the Ag Extension Service and would assume it is also in Michigan. I’ll bet you could recruit lots of MGs to come an overwhelm city hall. Good Luck.

  119. Dale E. Campbell
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 19:46:40

    Dear Mr. Mayor,

    I am a career soldier that has already spent what seems to be a lifetime in service of our Country(since 1988). I like to think that I am fighting for our basic freedoms we all enjoy. My concern is almost daily we see so many of those freedoms slipping away from us. Please just let Mrs. Julie Bass have her garden already.

    With Regards,
    CW2 Dale Campbell

  120. Escondido
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 20:34:30

    My Black’s Law Dictionary (6th Edition) says this: “Suitable. Fit and appropriate for the end in view.”

  121. Nicole
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 21:39:31

    Julie, I am writing Mayor Naftaly and Rulkowski for you. Your story really hits me, considering that just down the street in Ann Arbor this woman has a forest of foliage encased with stone right by the sidewalk – like a rain garden but more insane looking – as opposed to you having gardens back from the sidewalk. I can barely keep my basil plants alive and I would LOVE to build a raised garden. I think you should be commended for thinking outside the box (oh a pun!) instead of tickets and possible jail time. Frankly I’m kind of speechless about the whole thing. Too bad lawmakers tend to stick to their guns instead of admitting they are wrong :\ I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you. I’d even go to a rally for you 🙂

  122. Gardener in Missouri
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 22:37:16

    Hi! I sent an email to Oak Park on your behalf, not mentioning you specifically but saying that the city should encourage well-kept gardening in both front and back yards. 🙂 It is so healthy — you’re doing a great thing. Good luck! Don’t be discouraged!

  123. Verne Ball
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 22:39:05

    Are you represented by counsel?

  124. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 23:05:02

    yes- we will post his info soon- just want to check with him first and see what exactly he wants us to post…

  125. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 23:26:06

    thank you for your service- it’s people like you who are the real heroes! all the best- julie

  126. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 23:36:20

    heck ya! 🙂 -julie

  127. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 23:39:15

    wow- if you are serious, can you send it here and i will post it? i’ve never had a song written for me before (hint, hint, husband 😉 )!

  128. Jeffery-Dean: Saxon
    Jul 09, 2011 @ 23:52:20

    I too have gone to war with code enforcement in Warren Mi.
    First go to http://www.municode.com look for the free listing of the municipal code for Oak Park Mi.
    You will want to look at chapter 2 municipal powers.
    look at exactly what they have control of,


    The city and its officers shall have power to exercise all municipal powers in the management and control of municipal property and in the administration of the municipal government, whether such powers be expressly enumerated herein or not; to do any act to advance the interests of the city, the good government and prosperity of the municipality and its inhabitants, and through its regularly constituted authority, to pass and enforce all laws, ordinances, and resolutions relating to its municipal concerns, subject to the provisions of the Constitution, statutes and this Charter.

  129. CB White
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 00:57:29

    Just recently I heard of your family’s plight over your vegetable garden. I am so sorry you have to go through this, but I am so proud to know there is yet another person out there who prefers their vegetable garden in front! I am reletively new to gardening, and have put my veggie garden in the front too, due to sun exposure. Plus, the dogs use the back yard, so putting a garden in the front made more sense.
    I am currently a gardening columnist for a local community on-line news website, and I wanted to obtain permission for me to write about you in my next upcoming article. This issue occurs in Los Angeles, too, all the time! I can tell you about my plight off-line if you would like to hear it. When you have a little time, I would appreciate you sending me your email address privately, so I can speak to you a little more about this.
    Again, let me congratulate you and your family on your decision to have vegetables, instead of green lawn. Your garden is much more benefical to the earth, and plus, it is actually saving water, instead of wasting it! And the gastronomical benefits! Veggies taste better when you grow them yourself, as you already know.
    You are a true Hero!

  130. Kathryn Marsh
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 03:43:42

    I’m an environmental journalist in Dublin, Ireland. I’ve just sent a message to your city manager congratulating his city on providing the humorous content for my next column and the quarter of a million people who read it. Though maybe your city officials don’t mind looking ridiculous all around the world. Hope it goes well for you on the 26th and a LOT of people turn out to support you

    You have a healthy and beautiful garden as well as a useful one – and non of those dangerous lawn care company chemicals

    best wishes from cool, rainy and vegetable covered Ireland


  131. Julianne Wilson
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 08:04:36

    Hello Julie,
    I live in rural NE Georgia where there are very few (I can think of one) communities that seek to “regulate” what one can plant in one’s own yard (front or back) — well, aside from “funny weed”, of course! I support you in what you are doing and while I wish you were not facing the difficulties you are (bugs and fungus are enough of a challenge for a garden!), I am also imagining that as this issue is getting national attention, there are likely to be a lot more folks considering growing vegetables in their front yards. What a wonderful thing THAT would be! I would love to have your city officials (and whatever neighbors have been complaining) walk along streets in the northern part of Boulder, Colorado. It’s probably the most diversely landscaped compact urban area I’ve ever seen – and it’s beautiful…..refreshing, interesting, creative, ALIVE. I think that what you have “stumbled upon” in Oak Park is the fact that in our society we’ve come to equate “same” with “safe”….people experience a sense of “safety” when everyone is doing the same thing. It’s a very shallow and false kind of safety, but in a culture of fear such as ours, there’s a knee-jerk reaction to “difference” as “bad”. I agree with the person who stated that “suitable” is not a defendable legal term – so from that standpoint, I don’t see that Oak Park gov’t has a leg to stand on here (not that it will keep them from trying – and possibly winning). I greatly appreciate your recent blog entry asking people to be respectful in their support of you and to keep officials’ homes/private lives off-limits. You are growing much more of a garden in Oak Park than just vegetables….you are growing caring, heart, opportunities for learning and community building. I hope that they will see the many benefits of what you are doing — and that by this time next year, we’ll be seeing pictures of such wonderful “landscaping” show up all around town! Thank you …. Know that you’ve got support from this little corner of NE Georgia! (And, when you’re in need of a smile – just imagine what the response might have been if you’d planted MY vegetable garden in your front yard…..part of the garden is planted in raised beds that spell out JOY in big letters! ;0)

    PS Would you post the FB page your daughter has put up about this? I’d love to encourage folks to link to/”Like” it!

  132. Julianne Wilson
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 08:22:04

    I have a PS to my previous message: I’m wondering if there could be value (on a variety of levels) to a different name for your blog/FB page (which I found). First of all, I don’t think it’s accurate (I doubt that all of Oak Park – even the gov’t part – hates veggies……though they probably don’t eat enough of them, collectively speaking!) – but also, there is in your very name the element of attack/bullying that you are wanting to stop. I’m guessing it was born out of frustration – and perhaps even some humor – but I’m not sure it serves your purpose as well as something less inciting/judgmental might? I wish I had a few good suggestions to offer, but I’m guessing a shift would need to grow from your own garden, so to speak. I wonder if your supportive neighbors might have an idea or two – something that would not lump them in (in public perception) with the part of Oak Park that is taking you to court in this insane way. If I hadn’t scrolled through a bunch of posts (and most people will not), I would have been left with my initial assumption that your nearby neighbors were behind this and not supportive of you. Leading with hate…… does that not promote hate? (Even though I don’t see that in the content of your messages – but it definitely stands out in the title). Wishing you well, Julianne

  133. Patsey Manning
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 11:04:11

    Hi, I am a vegetarian, and anyone growing a vegetable garden is wonderful, in my opinion. I hope you win your battle to grow an actual useful, edible garden instead of a pretty, useless lawn. Good luck! And, your blog is very good, too.

  134. Allen
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 11:20:31

    City of Oak Park Mayor and Council Members

    Dear Lady and Gentlemen:

    I am writing to express my sympathy over the Julie Bass situation. Through no fault of yours, you and the City of Oak Park have been made to look like the biggest bunch of buffoons in the entire country. Do you think some city employees have been a bit over zealous?

    I know you want to nip this in the bud, pardon the pun, but maybe you should just amend the city ordinance. Right now, Ms. Bass is seen nationwide as the epitome of the American spirit. She represents the the very people who made this country great. You are seen as the bad guys, when all you want to do is make Oak Park beautiful.

    Have you thought about what will happen if you win? If Julie Bass goes to jail, you won’t be seen as just buffoons, you will be perceived as pure evil. You will make Satan look like a nice guy.

    It is not too late to apologize. You can save face. Well… some face anyway. You can invite her to city hall, apologize publicly, pay her attorney fees and any other expenses she has incurred fighting city hall, and invite her to participate in writing an amendment to the ordinance she was accused of violating.

    To me it is a simple choice: 1) Buffoon, but nice buffoon or 2) more evil than Satan. It is up to you. I hope you choose wisely. Me? I’m cheering for Julie!

    One Who Has Fought City Hall in

    PS. A copy of this note was sent to the mayor and each council member.

  135. Anon
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 12:26:54

    the root of this issue is that there is an agenda that goes all the way to the federal gov and beyond to stop all private food production. the use of a fraudulent system of laws that are made to appear to the uninformed to be the same legal system of the founding fathers, is the way we are fooled. We began this country with common law, with flesh and blood human beings who were sovereign. The gov was put in place to step in only in three cases, when one person harms another, when one person takes or damages another’s property, or when a contractual agreement is broken. What we have today is in fact “Maritime Admiralty Law” or “Law of the high seas” because it should only be valid in international waters of the oceans. This is a system of commerce and corpoatism, which is fundamentally antithetical to human rights being supreme. If we want to stop this now we must learn to get out of this FRAUDULENT COUNTERFEIT of a system. otherwise this trend will be expanded ( the bill SB 510 from last year for ex.). JULIE i recommend you look up the following videos (try you tube) “Meet your strawman” and “The Occult World of Commerce” for starters. In short you are only subject to the laws of admiralty if you are tricked to believing that you are the corporate entity instead of a physical human being — your name on your ID is in ALL CAPS — this is legal symbolism for being a corporation(not a flesh and blood human) that has the same name as you, but its NOT you and has NO bearing on you, unless you accept responsibility for your “straw man”. which all of us have done unwittingly.
    If we want to fix such problems, we must start by understanding how we have been manipulated. This issue is key.

  136. Bert Carson
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 12:46:41

    My email to the Mayor:

    There was a moment in time when Richard Nixon could have said, “Yep. I told them to check out the Democrats and that was a mistake. I was wrong and I’m personally going to pay for any damages that were caused by that mistake…” He didn’t do that and he was impeached.
    You are standing at that same moment in time.
    Yours to count on,

    Bert Carson
    2304 Bide A Wee Ave NE
    Huntsville, AL 35801

  137. Beija_Flor
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 13:11:51

    Hello fellow Gardener!
    Just to let you know I totally support your common sense use of your front yard to be used for vegetable gardening! Brava!
    Out here in California, it is quite a common sight! and people and neighborhoods welcome the sight of these gardens, not to mention the benefits of produce and recipes to share.
    My prayer is that cooler heads and common sense prevails for you and others in your area.

  138. chase
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 13:28:46

    Your choice to a jury trial is your absolute right and I hope you go to the “fully informed jury association and ask for their assistance and don’t put up with the bureaucracys jury tampering agenda get a jury of your peers “vegetable lovers” and kick there ass in court ,justice shall rein supreme
    best wishes
    Chase Bockman

  139. David "The Skin" King
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 13:46:12

    I found out about you from naturalnews.com
    It’s amazing that this is happening, I live in westland and am in 100% support of you! It’s your freakin lawn! Just find the people who hate vegetables so much and explain to them that it’s very healthy and give them a few and maybe you will convert them to peaceful loving individuals!

    Keep blogging about gardening, You should make a youtube channel and videos educating people on it too! Turn this into a gardening educational place!


  140. Johanna De Saeger
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 14:34:42

    I like your garden a lot and it looks like it’s filled with plants, clean and organic. Here in Belgium you wouldn’t have any problem – and this has nothing to do with our not-having-a-government-for-over-a-year 🙂 as a matter of fact, I know a family who have a corner house and their back yard is understandably much smaller than their front yard. Right now, they’re growing potatoes.
    As a more general issue: I appreciate that you are growing healthy food for yourself and your family (and if I know anything about veggies, some of your neighbors too – those zuchini have a way of being too much for one family!). Obesity rates are increasing dramatically in the USA, Colorado with over 19 percent now has the lowest amount of obese people whereas in 1995, this would have been the highest percentage. That is something to think about, isn’t it? http://www.healthyamericans.org/report/88/ 
    So by growing vegetables and educating kids in your neighborhood is kind of taking a part of the government’s responsibility. Kids need to know that tomatoes are not just those little plasticky slices you find in a burger…

    So, from across the ocean: keep up the good work! Inspire people! 🙂

  141. Joe in Missouri
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 15:18:52

    The definition of suitable is:

    “Right or appropriate for a particular person, purpose, or situation”

    Unlike the definition the jack booted thug gave in the video I watched.

    Take em’ down I am proud of your actions.

    Joe in Missouri

  142. Joe in Missouri
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 15:20:39

    Tell me more about not having a government. I really like the sounds of that. I bet Julie also likes the sound of that.

  143. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 15:32:03

    thanks for your feedback- it was never my intention to “lead with hate”- it was really just me being incredulous that the only thing the city had a problem with was my vegetable plants. they were ok with the mulch and the beds and the swing and whatever else- they only kept citing “vegetables” as the problem. so the title of this blog might more accurately have been, “why does oak park seem to hate veggies?” i didn’t think it through to this level, never expecting it to become such a major issue- really i just wanted to have a forum for other people who may have been through a similar problem with their own city so they could advise me. obviously, we’ve gone way beyond that, but i do appreciate you taking the time to comment. all the best- julie

  144. Benita
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 15:34:59

    Your lawyers and local supporters should check up on Sacramento, Calif. solution to this same situation. It took several years but a grassroots movement changed the city ordinance about gardening in the front yard. http://www.sacgardens.org/aboutCode.html. I don’t believe the lady in Sacramento every had to pull out her vegetable garden and the city did not enforce the fine.

  145. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 15:35:58

    thank you! -julie

  146. Julianne Wilson
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 15:50:00

    Julie – I definitely don’t see YOU leading with hate – just wondered if the title of the blog/FB page didn’t stimulate that in others and set up more of an Us-against-Them situation that could make resolution more difficult. That said, of course, it’s also catchy! Not meant as a criticism – rather a point of reflection. I look forward to headlines soon in the news from Oak Park such as “The Veggie Lover who Ate Oak Park” or “Veggie Gardener Plows Justice at City Hall” or something! 😉

  147. Dave Shelden
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 16:00:30

    don’t know where Oak Park is getting their definition of suitable. maybe just making it up. “Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged dictionary of the English language”, New Deluxe edition,first published 2001, defines suitable:

    adj. such as to suit: appropriate: fitting: becoming… Syn. proper, benefitting: seemly: apt.

    There is no other definition given. So where did they get that shit?

    Your attorney will shred them. And

  148. Katja
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 16:20:00

    Well just to let you know your story has made the news in Europe now. I find it bizare in the extreme. What is more beautiful than a garden for all to see? We stand with you and support you in any way we can.

  149. Steve
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 16:22:13

    That’s very kind of you Carolyn. Thanks.

  150. Tammy Arbogast
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 17:06:10

    Ok, I understand City Ordinances need to be followed. What I find amazing is how gardens are supposedly not decorative like a shrub or grass. They are colorful, maintained (more than yards that are all weeds), and interesting to view due to the frequent changes over time. Next, in this day when money is tight, a citizen planting and harvesting a garden is a great way to help take the burden off of the taxpayers. We spend too much time in America with pesticides and large green lawns. If everyone who could planted a small garden and shared, it would help take the burden off families that are stuggling… ESPECIALLY IN MICHIGAN for goodness sakes! Personally I think her garden is tasteful and just fine. I know of people who live in the city who hve small gardens in their front yard only for the sole purpose of planting on one spot of their property that actually has enough sunlight to grow a garden. Would these people like trees cut down in that backyard just to plant a garden. I would understand if the garden were hideous or an eyesore, but put a kid in the front of that yard at the road and they would be immediately and interested in the garden (not to mention they just might try some healthy foods and help out the obesity problem so prevalent in our nation today). Julie, I like your garden and hope it all goes well.

  151. Tammy Arbogast
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 17:07:46

    (please overlook the typos)

  152. jhhdsn
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 18:07:06

    So I stumbled upon your issue while watching a growing your greens post and some of the ordinances he read in that post made me dig in a little more.

    If I understand this correctly you were issued a violation on ordinance 1716.A.5 which reads: All unpaved portions of the site shall be planted with grass ground cover, shrubbery, or other suitable live plant material.

    So if they are saying vegetables are not a suitable plant material, that means by their interpretation of suitable the ordinance states that vegetables are not suitable to be planted on any unpaved portions of the site. This means that even if you planted vegetables in the rear or side yard you would still be in violation of the ordinance. I come to this conclusion because the ordinance is a general site ordinance not an ordinance that is specific to the front, rear, or side yard.

    For some reason being unable to utilize common sense is a common trait in code enforcement. Code officials are there to ensure the rules local governments put in place are enforced which is important. The problem come in when someone wants to do something unusual and it is not specifically allowed or prohibited via an ordinance. Typically if that is the case, code officials will make the assumption that it is not allowed even though there has been no formal process to prohibit the action. That is a very dangerous area because laws and ordinances are passed in a way to allow for debate and public input. When you have code officials making unilateral decisions that defeats the purpose of having an established process to put laws and ordinances into place.

  153. Alina Joy
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 18:10:44

    I saw the newsclip about you on naturalnews.tv I like your garden… I think it is very attractive and not an eyesore at all. I wish you all the best with your court appearance. =)

    My husband decided to leave a career in software and take up farming without going into debt… so we are farming the front yard. (Of course we have 5 acres… but still, that’s not so big for a while farm!) Thankfully we haven’t had many problems… we only had one incident when an eager neighbor came over and mowed down our alfalfa thinking he was just mowing grass!

  154. Dianne SZ
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 19:15:29

    COOKING LIGHT magazine has an ARTICLE in the MAY 2011 issue beginning on page135 about Portland Mayor Sam Adams taking out 700 square feet of manicured lawn in the City Hall courtyard and replacing it with a vegetable garden. Can something like this help you out with “opinion” on what is “acceptable vegetation” for decorative purposes? If it’s good for Portland City Hall, it should be good enough for a front yard in Oak Park!

  155. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 19:42:59

    perfect! it seems that the world is advancing, and oak park is having trouble keeping up… 🙂

  156. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 19:55:13

    wow- good for you!!! i hope we are able to do something like that some day. i marked your blog so i can go back to it when i have a bit more time. thanks! -julie

  157. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 19:56:21

    exactly- couldn’t have said it better myself! 🙂

  158. Jim Frankland
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 20:00:58

    From: Jim Frankland
    To: Mayor and City Council
    Sent: Sunday, July 10, 2011 6:56 PM
    Subject: Shameful

    I’ll keep this short.

    You all should be ashamed of yourselves, for allowing the actions of Kevin Rulkowski to go this far. If you are in agreement with Mr. Rulkowski, then I absolutely see how your city is in such a mess, as people like me WOULD NEVER LOOK AT MOVING TO YOUR COMMUNITY. I shall hope that if the case is not dropped prior to trial, or if Mrs. Bass’ jury of peers; whom by finding her guilty will also seal their fate as citizens of your town; she and her family will see fit to remove themselves from such jurisdiction of tyranny.

  159. J. Davis
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 20:08:44

    I’ve emailed First Lady Michelle Obama, and Governor Synder on your behalf. Good luck!

  160. deborah345
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 21:12:09

    If I lived in your town I would be outside right now tearing out the front yard and planting veggies.

    good for you and thanks for going to task for the rest of us who sooner or later will be fighting our own city, County or State for the right to grow our own food on the land we own, rent or are buying.

  161. Lisa Rose Starner
    Jul 10, 2011 @ 22:20:52

    Hi Michelle, Julie.

    I am also from the Grand Rapids’ delegation of gardeners and urban farmers. Love to meet other proactive food growers!

    I learned of your challenge, Julie, via a listserve for food systems advocates that is run by the CS Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems at MSU in Lansing. http://www.mottgroup.msu.edu/.

    You have the power of many food advocates behind you, Julie — it includes gardeners, farmers, urban farmers, advocates, eaters… My question to you is how can we help move your cause forward?

    And while I cannot speak on behalf of any organization or individual, I think if you let us know how we can help (ie specific letter writing, organizing a $$ project on Kickstarter (for additional front hardscaping, facebook campaigning, even show up at the garden & courthouse if you need), we can lend a hand for you!

    Keep in touch!!!!

    Yours in solidarity,
    Lisa Rose Starner (another front yard gardner in Grand Rapids, MI)

  162. Amy
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 02:50:22

    I just wanted to wish you all the best & to offer my support. I’m in Australia & was recently taken to Court by my local Council over owning poultry. They changed the law without proper community consultation or communication & my existing poultry were suddenly made illegal overnight. I was facing potential fines worth thousands of dollars or even jail time. Over poultry. Even the judge looked exasperated over the waste of her time.

    Thankfully, I received no conviction & the judge refused to fine me or issue an order for the removal of the birds. But unfortunately it doesn’t negate the fact that it appears common sense has been sacrificed by many governing bodies the world over in favour of the (very) vocal, complaining, idiotic minority. I hope common sense prevails in your case. We will be thinking of you.

  163. willienelso3
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 04:59:16

    yes, I am glad i read this section. 🙂

  164. Simon Redding
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 08:50:21

    Hi there Julie in America,

    Greetings from Transition Chesterfield in England’s Peak District.
    Glad to hear that you’re kicking back against the wall of anti-food silly bureaucracy – we have it here too. We plant trees within our community common areas and are fortunately able to plant veggies in our gardens. We hold skills sharing workshops and an annual potato day.

    Have a look at what our friends Incredible Edible do – it’s inspirational…
    Your city council could embrace this protest and change the face of the city to be more creative and productive!


  165. Melissa Ossanna
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 08:52:42

    Just wanted to toss in a word of support for you. When I first saw the news story, I looked to see if I had somehow linked to ‘The Onion’, it was so preposterous. You are doing a great thing for your family, and for your neighborhood, and should be commended for it! I think of kids in particular. We have a front yard garden (we live in a more rural area, so no one has tried to arrest me), and when my son has friends over, he takes them out to ‘graze’. Kids have come to visit and gone away having tried, and liked, vegetables that they never touched when they were just put on the plate at dinner. Kids (and their parents) need to pay much more attention to where their food comes from. What better way then putting a garden in full view to promote this! Your front yard organic garden should be an example of the MOST suitable plant material! Don’t give in to the anti-veggie naysayers! Good luck!

  166. Jerry A Pipes
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 09:04:15

    After reading it, I thought my wife had written it. 🙂

  167. Dink Robart
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 09:40:25

    This problem can be easily rectified by applying the law. That law is a supreme court decision refered to as the Clearfield Doctrine. The City of Oak Park is a corporation, that having been said , Oak Park is no different than any other corporation and must be the holder, in due course, of some contract or commercial agreement before it attempts to enforce it’s corporate statutes.

    Dink Robart

  168. Karen Strickholm
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 11:51:04

    http://www.zesterdaily.com/zester-soapbox-articles/117-waking-from-our-lawn-coma — A great article about growing veggies, instead of lawns.

    Above is a link to an article written by my client Margie Grace (www.GraceDesignAssociates.com). I am sending it to younot because I’m promoting her, but because she may be able to testify on your behalf, and/or submit a letter or whatever.

    Margie Grace won the International Landscape Designer of the Year Award, the highest honor in her field. AND, this particular article also won an award from the Association of Food Journalists. Let us know how we can help! I can be reached at StrickholmCompany@msn.com or 505-988-4401.

  169. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 12:46:29

    thank you for this heads-up, karen! i’m still amazed at all the things i don’t know, so i’m glad there are people out there like you who are looking on my behalf!

  170. donna
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 13:29:58

    I’m sure your lawyer has already mentioned this…. But roses, and MANY< MANY other "common flowers and grasses' are not only edible but provide nutritional value. Therefore if the city dubs pepper and tomatoes which are flowering plants illegal, than roses must be illegal also. As must sweetpea, marigold, and many, many other "common flowers".

    I've already signed the petition, and sent my letters to these idiots.

    THANK YOU JULIE from the heart for standing up and doing the right thing and not backing down. I bow to you.

    Donna Salvini

  171. Kim
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 13:30:51

    Wrote an “ask question” to Oak park city offices on behalf of all people who care to grow food…
    What is the harm in growing food in this economy? Whether in front yard or back yard or community garden.
    I support the Bass Family, and make a recommendation that you rewrite your city codes to bring them up-to-date quickly, instead of enforcing codes which no longer serve the highest good. Set an example, not of the Bass Family, but of government responding quickly to the changing needs of the people..Let’s show America that local governments are FOR US, and not TOO onerous to respond to changing needs.
    Former P&Z Commissioner, Cortez, CO

  172. Ruby Red
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 13:45:52

    Your “About” section should actually have a brief summary of why this blog was created… sort of a backstory, or a link to the first entry perhaps. For someone who just heard about this story, it’s hard to dig around and find the original details about your battle with Oak Park. And also, since there are SO MANY Oak Parks in America, you should include more relevant location data on your site so that folks who don’t live near you can get a better picture of where this is all happening. With the news coverage, you’re more likely to get national attention now. Best of luck!

  173. Bill
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 13:57:36

  174. Kristin
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 14:30:11

    Mother Earth News published a great article on edible front yards last year. here’s the link if anyone is finterested: http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/edible-landscaping-zw0z10zalt.aspx

    BTW, Mother Earth News has been very supportive of you on their Facebook page. They linked to the story last week and linked to this blog today. They are encouraging their readers to get involved.

    Good luck!

  175. Terri Shea
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 14:32:49

    LOVE your front yard veggie garden. I have one, too! They are very popular here in Seattle, and are gaining ground everywhere as people realize just how much we’ve wasted our space. Keep up the good work, Mom!

    My tiny garden : http://img580.imageshack.us/img580/504/frontyardveggies.jpg

  176. gardenserf
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 14:41:21


    I see what you are doing now as no different than the Victory Gardens that town and city residents were encouraged to grow by the US government back during WWII. If you Google “Victory Gardens” and select the images category, you will see plenty of photos from the time period of people (including school children) gardening in yards, on rooftops, and even in front of city halls all across this country. The government even did promotional posters.

    It’s unfortunate that you have some small-minded local bureaucrats who are completely ignorant of history. It says a lot about where we are now as Americans when individuals producing their own food has become a revolutionary act.

  177. Steve
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 14:42:05

    That’s a great article by Margie Grace! Thanks for the link Karen. I love the line, “Everybody does it their own way, and everyone wins.” Diversity is one of the key components of a healthy ecosystem, community, neighborhood, etc.

  178. American Citizen
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 16:30:13

    The follwing e-mail has been sent to Mr. Rulkowski from a keyboard in Lexington KY. Best wishes in your fight.

    Dear Mr. Rulkowski,

    Why are you placing a woman in jeopardy of a 3 month jail sentence for planting a vegetable garden in her own front yard? What legitimate public purpose is served by such a senseless waste of tax resources? Does the non-conformity of the lady’s productive landscaping really merit imprisonment? When did the constructive horticultural use of one’s own property assume such gigantic public policy implications? Is this lady’s tax-funded persecution really about her dastardly lawn keeping practices or is it about the assertion of your petty, officious ego over the affairs of a family whose tax payments undoubtedly go to pay for and sustain your hateful presumptions?

    Do you realize how completely fed up taxpayers across the country are with parasitic trolls such as yourself? Do you understand that every fresh instance of arrogant bureaucratic abuse such as this pushes us one step closer to unraveling the civic restraint which has permitted folks like you to putrify our daily lives with the petty machinations of vain officialdom? In olden times, “officials” like you would have been torn from the barricade of their legalisms, tarred, feathered, and ridden around town on a rail so that all could see them for the sorry wretches they were. If cowards like you keep it up, what was old will become new again. May your tyrannical corruptions hasten the day.


    Free American

  179. Johanna De Saeger
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 16:46:47

    We had elections in Belgium over a year ago but it seems the people we elected *really* don’t get along and they just don’t seem to be able to work out how they should run the country. So we don’t have an official government. It’s a world record! (We actually do have a government but it’s not really official, it’s just the old one that keeps things running ‘ad interim’.)

  180. Kevin
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 16:59:58

    Hi Julie,

    As a long time gardener I am shocked at what’s going on.I agree with the one poster about contacting Mrs. Obama.Couldn’t hurt.Anyway you should know your story has hit major garden forums.I am a member of several but one in particular I am a member of http://www.idigmygarden.com has two threads posted about your plight. Idigmygarden is hosted by Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Many of us would be happy to see you there.You could get even more garden ideas there .Many of us there trade seeds and sometimes cuttings.I have even gotten seeds from as far away as Poland.You could find out about many varieties of veggies that would be great for your needs.

    Btw when I lived in Ohio we had a big corner lot in the City of Bryan.And a very large garden with around 50 tomato plants 30-40 Bell peppers ,corn ,potatoes pumpkins and several other garden goodies.Also I elected to plant my Jalapeno and Serrano peppers in a front yard flower bed along side the porch with flowers in another flower bed up front.The only time the City ever said anything to me was when it got hot and some weeds or the grass got a little tall.Being I have a heart condition I have to be careful about over doing.So once I got the weeds taken care of and the grass mowed they left me alone.Your raised beds are well done and are neat and tidy.Oak Park needs to be more reasonable about what is suitable.This is a great way for not only your kids to learn about how things grow and produce food but also the neighborhood kids as well.Really I find it all very odd because in Detroit folks are planting in vacant lots and yards to raise food.Why should Oak Park be any different.


  181. Mey
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 17:10:00

    I think one of the reasons women seem to be the only ones with guts to stand up to the absurdity of it all is that we already have to work twice as hard to get half the credit and only 70% of the pay that men (even minority men-although maybe 80% of their pay since they are typically paid less also) are attributed by society. Therefore we put ourselves out there when the time calls for us to do so. We are not afraid of failure. So what if we do fail! We have tried our best to do what we see as a good and true thing to do.

    In other words: it is our nature. We fight for what we believe in. We do it not out of obligation, but out of love, caring and a sense of pride. We teach our children by doing not saying. We get out there and argue, picket, march and yes even have the proverbial bake sale and victory garden to support our loved ones and ourselves. We even sacrifice our pride at times, yes we beg, borrow and plead for justice when neccessary.

    We are not afraid to fail, because “failure” is not the outcome, it is the lesson of progress.


  182. Rach
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 19:28:48

    Just finding this site through an online article in Mother Earth News. I scrolled through a few comments above and noticed someone had mentioned the national right to farm. But, there is a Michigan Right to Farm Act. The only way any municipality can stop farming is if the municipality zones it out. You can contat the Michign Department of Agriculture and Rural Develpment’s Right to Farm program manager, Wayne Whitman, and find out more about it in regard to Oak Park. Go to http://www.michigan.gov/mdard/0,1607,7-125-1567_1599_47930—,00.html. There is a phone number to call. Good luck.

  183. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 21:14:14

    hahahaha- maybe she did 😉

  184. Jim Frankland
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 21:29:21

    @American Citizen:Re:Mr. Rulkowski,

    He is a politician looking to make a name for himself, and what a name it will be. Hopefully his career in tyranny will be over soon. It is people like him which are waking up Americans to reduce the size of big government without common sense. OR Should I say SUITABLE sense. Oddly, that WORD doesn’t work here either.

  185. acdnfan
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 21:49:25

    Hey Julie, thought I’d drop in to offer congrats and encouragement. Nice dry humour in this page! What’s happening down there is bound to spread north, so I’m keeping an eye on what your power mongers get up to.

    I guess I’d plant “shrubbery” then: blueberries, raspberries, herbs that would make good ground cover, and some fruit trees whose roots wouldn’t mess up artificial structures. Just an idea for the future, but I also support the “Rosa Parks” argument against backing down now. Staying within the letter & watching ’em fume can be fun too though. You go, girl!


  186. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 22:12:35

    well good for you, amy! enjoy your poultry!! -julie

  187. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 22:17:24

    well thank you, lisa rose! i will continue to post on this blog when things happen, and if there is anything i can think of that we need. i appreciate your offer of help and support! i have a good friend in grand rapids – they are lucky to have you! -julie

  188. Diana Christenhusz
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 22:34:04

    Hey Julie,

    You made the truecrimereport.com web site!!!!

  189. sean
    Jul 12, 2011 @ 02:29:30


    Up here in Seattle, we recently passed code changes for urban agriculture. Perhaps some of these would be of use as a suggestion for your city.


    Part of this battle is changing and challenging old paradigms. The decision to put your beds in the front yard is part of the solution. Good luck from all of us up here in Seattle!


  190. The Old Scout
    Jul 12, 2011 @ 07:00:56

    Here’s my email to your mayor. I am a professional planner and thought it might be helpful to focus on good planning. Wishing you all the best. Mike

    Dear Mayor Naftaly,

    I am writing as a planner in support of Julie Bass and her code enforcement case now pending in your city. First, let me say I do not live in your city and am not familiar with the details of the case or the specifics of your ordinances. My purpose in writing is to add my voice, as a professional, to the chorus of support for this family and their attempt to add beauty and functionality to their property. I am a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners, have practiced planning in the state of Delaware for 37 years and have extensive background in both urban and rural settings. My background is also in agriculture. I farmed for many years and have most recently worked as the Chief of Planning for the Delaware Department of Agriculture (now retired) where I was in charge of the nation’s most successful farmland preservation program.

    First, let me share with you that there is a growing movement in this country to encourage home gardens. This push has been headed by First Lady Michelle Obama. The American Planning Association (APA) now has a national food policy ( http://www.planning.org/policy/guides/adopted/food.htm ). The recession, as well as a desire for healthier food, is motivating people all over the country to plant gardens for the first time. I have worked on several urban gardening projects that aim to get people outside enjoying the garden, to have everyone eat healthier, and, in the eyes of most people, improve the appearance of neighborhoods. But, I’m sure most people, including you, are not against gardens. Knowing zoning ordinances as I do from professional experience, I’m sure the issue is where the garden is located.

    I would suggest there are ways to deal with this issue – calmly and peaceably! First, how definitive is the ordinance on this point? If subject to broad interpretation, the code enforcement principle often comes down to appearance. Is this garden neat, clean, well-kept, setback from the street, etc.? If so, code enforcement is often interpreted in favor of the property owner. Broadly written ordinances are drafted in that way to allow leeway in interpretation. I’m sure, like any jurisdiction, there is precedent for such interpretation. But failing this there is a variance. I’m sure there are legal avenues within your ordinances to grant variances. There’s usually a citizen board that can hear such matters and can weigh the various factors at work in reaching a decision. Why not take that route rather than prosecution? There is usually considerable allowance for either waiver or mitigation of hearing fees, if this is justified.

    Let me close by saying first – this woman is on the side of the angels in this matter. Nationally, even worldwide, gardening is a growing and important trend which answers the increased concerns people have about their food, quality and independence. Your town could help lead the way in this movement by recognizing the importance of good gardening. Please look for a way, within your legal frameworks, to resolve this matter amicably. That’s what our laws are for – to make our communities safe, healthy, and peaceable. Your city has the opportunity to show that our legal system can work that way and allow this family their beautiful garden for all to see and enjoy. I’m sure she’d share some veggies, too!

    All the best,
    Michael H. McGrath, AICP


  191. Kim
    Jul 12, 2011 @ 09:17:40

    Just curious, have you considered planting grass around your garden area? seems to me that the garden would be an functional accent to your lawn just like anyone else may have lawn ornaments or flowers etc.. win win. you would be doing as they suggested planting “ordinary” grass.. but your also accenting your yard with yummy veggies and the pretty blooms from the veggies ( just like anyone else’s flowers they would plant in their yard). Just a thought.
    I really hope you win your case. I think its crazy what they are trying to do.
    Best of luck to you and yours!

  192. valerie
    Jul 12, 2011 @ 10:08:12

    Hello Julie

    Just saw the publicity on this: here’s what I wrote your Mayor. If you haven’t yet contacted the local Master Gardener group (it’s a state level program), I’m sure they would be allies in this argument as well:

    Hello Mayor Naftaly

    As a Master Gardener intern, I was totally appalled by the news story about your city pressing charges against a citizen for growing vegetables in the front yard. From what I can see in the pictures, she has put together a very neat and practical garden that should be held up as an example to the neighborhood, not prosecuted!!! I urge you to take this opportunity to promote environmentally sensible gardening in your community by not only erasing all legal charges, but taking the same resources that were being used to investigate her “violation” and use them to publicize the benefits of replacing front-yard sod with more useful plants (e.g., food for humans or wildlife-friendly perennials). Leverage today’s negative publicity to build tomorrow’s “GardenVille USA” success story!



  193. flowers 2 u
    Jul 12, 2011 @ 10:39:14

    from one front yard gardener to another—YOU GO GIRL!!!

  194. Cat from Measuring Spoons
    Jul 12, 2011 @ 12:38:22

    Julie, I sent this letter today. I CC’d the mayor and the governor. Good luck with everything. I’ve shared your blog on Facebook and I’ll be posting it to my blog.

    Dear Mr. Rulkowski:

    I’m writing today in support of Julie Bass, the woman who is growing vegetables in her front yard and is being needlessly persecuted by the city of Oak Park. Shame on you for using valuable city resources over vegetables during a time when budget cuts are rampant! Is your city such a model of perfection that there is no problem with drugs, theft, or violence? Your resources, instead of going to those issues, must be piddled away over vegetables and a vaguely written ordinance?

    Historically, in times of economic hardship, communities turn to growing their own vegetables. In the present day, adults and children alike do not get enough exercise, time outdoors, or servings of fruits and vegetables. Everything that Julie is doing is helping her family and her community.

    One of my own neighbors here in New York has had a vegetable garden in his front yard for the last few years. I was delighted to see the plants come up, and sometimes went out of my way to take a different route home to check on their progress. Seeing his garden grow brought joy to our neighborhood.

    The government of Oak Park is in the wrong, Mr. Rulkowski, and America is watching. We will stand up in solidarity with Julie. We will plant vegetables in our front yards, and we will drive from all over to tend to her garden if you throw her in jail. Give Julie justice.

    V for Veggies,

  195. Forget-Me-Not Social
    Jul 12, 2011 @ 13:36:14

    Hi there, glad to hear you’re standing up for veggie-lovers 🙂
    Just wondered, do you have a Twitter account I can follow? I find blogs hard to keep track of, but would love to keep updated on your fight. Good luck!
    @FMNsocial 🙂
    Laura 🙂

  196. editor
    Jul 12, 2011 @ 16:11:22

    Families across American should be doing what you’re doing!

    Here in Argentina the city has also been cracking down on community gardens in abandoned lots.

    People all over the world are with you! You could be on the crest of a movement to change existing paradigms and bring Americans back to agriculture. Keep up the good fight!

  197. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 12, 2011 @ 16:24:16

    sorry- i don’t know how to twitter. not even how to get on our own facebook page! lucky my husband is a computer whiz, and my kids helped me set up this blog! i think if i had one more thing to keep track of, i would go a bit crazy. maybe you have a friend who could just summarize my blog for you each day? 😉

  198. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 12, 2011 @ 16:41:17

    you go, cat!

  199. Roberta
    Jul 12, 2011 @ 18:53:39

    Here’s a compelling little fact for your attorney. Did you know that when Castro took over Cuba he made survival (vegetable) gardens a crime. I wonder how the prosecutor would feel about being compared to Fidel Castro. 🙂

  200. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 12, 2011 @ 20:50:53

    interesting- i thought cuba made gardens mandatory after their trade broke off with the former soviet union. hunh- you learn something new every day, i guess 🙂

  201. MKVZ
    Jul 12, 2011 @ 21:13:19

    Can’t believe what you are dealing with….we have a front yard garden and have lots of neighborhood support for it here in McMinnville, Oregon. Your garden looks beautiful! I am so sorry that you are being harassed. Please let us know if there is any more proactive way we can support you than just sending you positive thoughts.

  202. MKVZ
    Jul 12, 2011 @ 21:17:06

    Also, just thought I would mention that Martha Stewart (the paragon of what is proper) did an article a few years ago on how to do a front yard garden. If it is good enough for Martha Stewart, then I can’t imagine it isn’t good enough for Oak Park.

  203. weekend harvester
    Jul 12, 2011 @ 21:42:18

    Goodness…your garden looks much better than my dead “weedscape” I happen to have as a front yard. My garden is out back, but you have me rethinking things. Good luck to you!

  204. LKLeopold
    Jul 12, 2011 @ 22:07:09

    I guess I’m headed to the pokey, or at least I would be if I lived in Oak Park. I haved crook neck squash planted on either side my mexican plumeria next to a sago palm in my front yard. Beautiful plant with big yellow flowers. And attention all you Oak Park residents who have edible plants and flowers; you are next. God forbid that some kid should discover what food looks like and where it comes from.

  205. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 12, 2011 @ 22:38:40

    oh dear- are you sure you want to confess this on a public forum??? 🙂 -julie

  206. Peter
    Jul 12, 2011 @ 22:39:24

    Here in Portland, OR front yard gardens are “common.” There are three on our block, including ours. If you feel it would be useful I would be happy to e-mail pictures to the city planner, the judge, or anyone else you suggest, and encourage friends to as well.

  207. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 12, 2011 @ 22:49:36

    i think there are links on the righthand side of the blog to the petition and to the city officials- have at it!

  208. Kevin
    Jul 12, 2011 @ 23:05:35

    Hey Julie,

    I was thinking of you mentioning fruit trees and not doing it because of space. There are dwarf trees that would work for you that are both attractive and will give you some nice fruit.One is the Dwarf Bonanza Peach.They get no bigger than a few feet high.They have the typical pink blooms in the spring which cover the branches.Also there are types of apples that are without branches called columnar trees.They are for folks with limited space. They do bear full size fruit.You might want to check out some online sites that carry fruit trees and check what they have.I can make some recommendations if you like.Just let me know and I will be happy to advise you if you decide to give it a try.


  209. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 12, 2011 @ 23:09:44

    thanks for the suggestion- we are a little over trees in general after the debacle with the sewer pipe- but thanks anyway! -julie

  210. GrdnGrl
    Jul 12, 2011 @ 23:37:58

    I’ve been keeping up with your story lately and there are similarities between what you are going through with your town and what happened in my town several years ago.

    Here it was with a beautiful tree house that was built in the front yard of a home. I’m not going to go into all of the details here because I’ll leave the link and you can check it all out for yourself; but after many years of court, lawyers and even the state supreme court, the family with the treehouse won because of vague and unconstitutional wording in the city ordinance. This ended up being on national and even world news. If nothing else I thought it might give your attorney something to look at.


  211. kelli
    Jul 12, 2011 @ 23:38:30

    I not only wrote to the council members, it made me so mad i emailed the governor!!

    I am surprised to see a Governor would allow a city to waste precious money on something ridiculous!!!

    See below a letter I sent to the city council members… Maybe you could step in and make a change. Don’t let city officials waste good money on something that should have NEVER been an issue. I know I am not from Michigan, but have visited in the past several years and spent money there. Sad to see the tax money is being wasted!!!

    To all city council members, police chef, law makers, and all judges in Oak Park MI:
    I just read the article about Julie Bass possibly facing 93 days jail time for being creative in a bad situation.
    That is the problem with most government officials, not allowing people to think outside of the box. You should be ashamed of yourself. So should the most likely neighbor person that turned her in. (just guessing on the neighbor). I know the economy is bad and cities/states/federal govn’t are trying to find anyway they can to earn money, but this is ridiculous. I think it’s a HUGE wasting of City Money, to even spend 10 mins on this is horrible. I can’t imagine how much money the city is wasting on this small NON issue.
    In this bad economy you are going to slap someone on the wrist who made the effort to grow food in her front yard. Showing everyone in her community how to be more green; healthy and sustainable. I rather have people grow vegetable gardens in their front yard, back yard, side yard, raised beds, and containers, for FRESH FOOD. Which is better real fresh food vs processed food? We all know fresh is better and healthier, why wouldn’t a government officials support someone showing initiative. (I still can’t figure this out)
    Also maybe teaching people how to grow their own food they wouldn’t need to rely on the “welfare” system or food banks that are being heavily used. Show the USA that you want your town to be more green and not rely on foreign oils and foreign food. Imagine how much energy and resources that Julie is saving by growing her vegetable garden. Have you paid attention to the plants in a garden? They are beautiful and sometimes prettier than flowers and you get fruit or vegetables at the end of the season. I know I would rather have someone water a vegetable garden than a flower garden.
    Yes laws are made and should be followed, but sometimes they don’t many any sense and should be changed. Such as the law that has stirred this all up. (Or the law with holes)
    I have to laugh about the Mayor’s page on your city website:
    “While a student at Wayne State University in the early 1970s, Jerry initiated and spearheaded a successful campaign to implement shuttle-bus service from Oak Park to the Wayne State campus and downtown Detroit business districts, in response to severe gasoline shortage concerns”
    Seems like not much has changed from 1970s to now with Gas shortages. The gas prices now are even more outrageous and the earth is facing shortages and dry wells. At least back in the 70s Detroit and surrounding areas were booming because of the auto industry. We all know that isn’t how it is now a days. Everyone is pinching pennies and try to make ends meets. Giving up food to pay bills. Instead of encouraging EVERYONE in the city to grow vegetables and fruit in all available space, the city is threatening to throw people in jail for having a beautiful vegetable garden.
    It’s sad to see the only “environmental friendly act” that was posted on the website is when the Mayor was a student in the 1970s. It’s time for the ALL government Official’s around the USA to STEP UP!!! Instead charging a woman, who tried to do a GOOD DEED, the city should try to make improvements on current laws and TEACH citizens how to be more self reliant and not rely on Foreign Goods!!!
    I hope to see an article in the near future of stating an apology to Julie Bass and hiring her onto teach people in need how to grow their own food. This will give the citizens of Oak Park a power of confidence that Gardening gives to people.
    Time to turn this into a POSITIVE!!
    From Maryland

  212. CJ
    Jul 13, 2011 @ 02:12:23

    Your garden is in step with Michelle Obama’s health initiative! And you’ve done a lovely job! Your local officials are probably concerned about those who might not follow your example. (Unfortunately, there is usually one bad apple who spoils it for the rest of us. Some idiot with curbside corn around the water meter.) Try petitioning for new regulations that permit gardens like yours. Your local government is likely to respond to public opinion – respectfully submitted – in the interest of positive change. Best wishes!

  213. Colin Schumacher
    Jul 13, 2011 @ 02:18:36

    I completely agree, Tammie. A vegetable garden has a more intensive root system when compared to traditional lawns and is a valuable stormwater management improvement, encouraged by EPA regulations. There are easy to use online calculators that can output stormwater reduction benefits of green infrastructure improvements such as your garden http://greenvalues.cnt.org/national/calculator.php. Rain gardens and green infrastructure are essential to cities! http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/30/garden/creating-a-rain-garden-at-columbia.html

  214. DJ
    Jul 13, 2011 @ 09:24:24

    I really think you should call this your Victory Garden and inspire that same wave of patriotism that Jim Crockett and his associates did on PBS for what seems like 50 years.

    The notion of a garden in a yard, be it the front or back, is as American as that apple pie you get at McDonalds and that Chevy you used to drive before they were Government Motors – but you get the idea.

    Your Victory Garden will inspire others, and be a symbol of wars past and present. Our administration is fighting more wars than ever and we need to step up our gardens.

  215. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 13, 2011 @ 09:36:50

    yep- and the notion of a garden in oak park goes back to the 1930s, when the citizens took land that was scheduled to become an airport and turned it into garden plots for people who were unemployed due to the depression. they even hired guards to watch over the gardens so nobody would do anything bad to them. look at how far we’ve come… NOT. thanks for your comments- julie

  216. Kiza
    Jul 13, 2011 @ 15:18:37

    I just caught a glimpse of something on the tv about this…. too funny (sorry, its not funny that you are in a battle, just that they started the battle)….

    best of luck…


  217. Doug
    Jul 13, 2011 @ 16:41:33

    Repeating some of the fine expressions noted already:

    This issue is a matter of principle, where government organizations are not focused on service to citizens. Rather, the feckless egos that are present in many (not all) government bureaucrats. Perhaps, those of us concerned about bully tactics that Julie Bass is experiencing can establish a citizen funded legal fund (PayPal contributions) and retain a law firm to sue the municipality of Oak Park Michigan for frivolous enforcement of regulations without proper interpretation of broader federal and state government statutes and guidelines.

    Julie, I have written respectable letters to Oak Park government on your behalf.

    Best regards!
    Denver, CO

  218. Brenda
    Jul 13, 2011 @ 20:37:49

    If you read the whole news story, the CITY’s trees roots grew into their front yard and plumbing, requiring them to dig up their front yard to repair (at their own expense) and then having to do SOMETHING with the mess – she decided to grow vegetables instead of lawn, a completely reasonable and au courant decision.

    The back yard, having been undisturbed, would have been a completely extremely expensive option.

  219. EJ
    Jul 13, 2011 @ 21:28:53

    Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,
    Chorus (in bold):
    Swing low, sweet chariot
    Coming for to carry me home
    Swing low, sweet chariot
    Coming for to carry me home

    I looked over Jordan and what did I see
    Coming for to carry me home
    A band of angels coming after me
    Coming for to carry me home


    Sometimes I’m up and sometimes I’m down
    Coming for to carry me home
    But still my soul feels heavenly bound
    Coming for to carry me home


    The brightest day that I can say
    Coming for to carry me home
    When ….. washed my sins away,
    Coming for to carry me home.


    If I get there before you do
    Coming for to carry me home
    I’ll cut a hole and pull you through
    Coming for to carry me home


    If you get there before I do
    Coming for to carry me home
    Tell all my friends I’m coming too
    Coming for to carry me home

  220. Nicole
    Jul 13, 2011 @ 23:12:20

    BTW they haven’t even responded to my email! Hoping this means they are being completely inundated with emails about you 🙂

  221. Shifra
    Jul 13, 2011 @ 23:47:54

    this is so silly! Obesity is rampant in our country and here we have a family who is NOT watching TV and eating fast food, but is INVESTING themselves in growing healthy food, and they are being punnished for it. I applaud your efforts and what you are trying to teach your children and your neighbors children about healthy living! You are %100 right that people put up all sorts of things on their lawns that are eyesores and no one bats an eyelash.
    Hatzlacha in getting these people off your back!

  222. Jim Frankland
    Jul 14, 2011 @ 00:08:27

    “…at least some of your neighbors didn’t appreciate the state of your lawn prior to planting this garden…”

    First, one news story I saw online, they talked with several neighbors, who put their faces on camera saying they didn’t have a problem with it. They found ONE neighbor who would only show her legs on camera and said it needed to change. Property values and aesthetics are in the eye of the individual. It seems there are a good many posters here who would enjoy such a garden, and having an open friendly community (talking with my neighbors) rates high in my personal opinion. Hiding behind the power of the government stick, lawyers, bureaucracy rather than meeting your neighbors and discussing matters disgust me. I don’t like the impersonal world we’ve created, go out and meet your neighbors, talk things over. Even if you disagree, you might end up empathizing enough you can overlook those differences. Besides, when the dollar collapses, you might need to barrow a tomato or potato until next season.

    Secondly, an individuals rights to their property seems non existant these days. It seems a few people want to force their control upon others rights, whether it is telling someone what they have to do with their land, claiming eminent domain and seizing it, even down to religious symbols; what happened to our persuit of happiness or our right to religious freedom, on land WE OWN, bought and paid for with our sweat and labor?

    Yep, living in a community has risks, you never know who might move next door; the alternative is to isolate yourself with acres of land. Yep, unless you go introduce yourself, take the time to sit down and talk to your neighbor; you’ll never know what your missing. But, hey nicely manicured front lawns in neighborhoods where nobody turns off the T.V. and comes outside to meet your neighbors (so why would the lawn matter), that works for some people too I guess.

  223. Sarah Chanah Sufrin
    Jul 14, 2011 @ 00:39:29

    Hi Mrs. Bass,
    Saw this on Facebook and signed the petition, this is really ridiculous! Good on you for sticking up for yourself and anyone else who may face the same problem at some later time. I’ve read through some of the blog posts and comments and smiled to see the trademark Mrs. Bass sense of humor I remember so well. Sending my support from across the sea,
    Sarah Chanah (Lerner) Sufrin

  224. Cheryl Leppo-Roution
    Jul 14, 2011 @ 02:07:34

    I haven’t has the time to read every entry in this blog but this seems to me less about personal rights and more about governmental waste and stupidity! I live outside the bounds of a city and I can’t even get the county to come out and get roaming dogs that neighbors refuse to keep in their yards! There must be little to no crime in your area to spend that much time on something as ridiculous as this. I live in a middle class rural area and I could drive in a 2 mile loop around this area and produce pictures of unpleasant yards with cars hidden in the weeds, broken down walls (an actual 8 foot stone wall was started at the beginning of the subdivision by the first house on the street, they were arrested on drug charges and lost the house as a result, the stone fence was never completed and it no one can do a darn thing about it!) and large areas with no grass at all. THESE are real issues! A garden? Really? And lets also say this, vegetables and fruits produce flowers (kind of a pre-requisite of most fruits and vegetable, just ask Mendel about his pea-plats) so technically you did have flowers, right. Little bit of trivia, here in Kentucky (Appalachia to be precise) for many years people believed that tomatoes were poisonous and only kept their plants as decoration! I do hope that all turns out well and that your plants continue to grow. Here in Kentucky I already have a couple dozen zucchini and squash, pickles, peas and some beans from a 20X30 garden.
    PS, an idea for next year…If you are brave enough. Tomatoes in the south are plagues with “rust” and bugs not sure how they do there. As suggested by Paula Dean, using a square hay block, cut out three holes on the top and fill with potting soil, Plat tomato plat in the middle and marigolds on the sides. Marigolds help with bugs and the soil will not be contaminated! Uniquely beautiful and practical at the same time!
    Good Luck!

  225. 1461 Days
    Jul 14, 2011 @ 10:17:41


    I would like to hear from you.

    Your story is compelling and I want to include it in the 1461.

    I have noticed that Michelle has declined to comment on the issue but it still includes itself in the story of the current administration as it is part of Michelle Obama’s cause for a more fit nation.

  226. C.A.Guyer
    Jul 14, 2011 @ 11:45:51

    Maybe this has already been suggested but All you have to do Julie is go around and get pictures of others front yards in the area that are a mess and in this way you prove you’re being targeted and dicriminated against–if there aren’t front yards more offensive than yours around there you must live in Heaven–with all the problems in the world,I believe the city could surely find a better way to spend their time and money–they must be a bunch of common sense challenged people that cant get a job doing anything productive——good luck

  227. Judy Kroll
    Jul 14, 2011 @ 12:54:58

    Hi–I am with you 100%! I thought this article might be interesting to you:


    We have a local guy who has a wild yard. Had to fight the city. He won.

  228. Rick
    Jul 14, 2011 @ 13:01:09

    Maybe this will help.
    I had a similar incident. I was raided by the ATF and charged with “manufacturing firearms without a License”. And there claim was “readily convertible”. My lawyers missed this completely, I had to ask the question; “what is the “legal” definition of “readily convertible””.
    In your case, it is “suitable plant growth”. What you MUST do is find out what the “legal definition”.
    IF there is no definition, law says that you use common usage. One other things lawyers will not tell you that if you use a dictionary published after the law was written, it is irrelevant. You must use a dictionary dated prior to the date of the law.
    Push HARD of the “definition” issue, don’t get into other distractions.

    E-mail if you have other questions rick@ktordnance.com

  229. Judy Kroll
    Jul 14, 2011 @ 13:32:05

    Excellent letter. It reinforces my opinion that this is really about conformity at all costs. God forbid anyone should do anything different. If they do not have a law that says “you may only plant grass, shrubs and flowers on your front lawn” they should not be harassing this woman just for the sake of conformity. It is frightening to think that the freedom of Americans does not even include planting something on their lawn that is different from their neighbors!

  230. Judy Kroll
    Jul 14, 2011 @ 13:33:37

    Hear hear!!

  231. Lisa Lovello
    Jul 14, 2011 @ 14:35:34


    I think it’s great that you have a personal blog updating people on both the progression of your garden and your family’s experience though this whole ordeal. Your vegetable garden has garnered a lot of national news attention and it’s clear most of America is on your side!

    I’m writing to you from Newsy; we use multiple news outlets to analyze and synthesize the news. This unique method allows for Newsy to provide viewers with more context for complex stories. Here is a link to our video about your garden: http://www.newsy.com/videos/jail-time-for-growing-veggies/

    I was hoping you would embed the video in a post or provide a link in your sidebar. I look forward to hearing from you!

    Lisa Lovello
    Marketing at Newsy

  232. BlatantDisregard
    Jul 14, 2011 @ 15:32:23

    Ms. Bass, I just want to let it be known that I have sent the following the the entire city council, as well as the mayor. May this madness cease to exist.
    Greetings Mayor and Councilpersons,
    I have been following the Julie Bass story non stop for the past few days, and was bitterly outraged today to find out that she is the target of another trumped charge, most likely as the result of anger from the prosecutors office. It was obvious when 28.000 people joined the cause, that she was within her civil liberties to do as she so pleased. What is even more outrageous, is the Director of Public Information’s daughter, Jessica Newman, is submitting “essays” to Time Magazine (See Below for Link), proclaiming falsities, in which Julie Bass herself said was completely wrong. Everything in the article was completely wrong, and I don’t understand how the director of Public Information, would let his own daughter publish information that is completely wrong. I have seen that the charges have been dropped, yet new ones brought up? This is a crusade against this women, and you are mad about her actions, so you are trying to pin whatever unjust legal charge you can on this poor women. If you have read her blog, or seen the photos, she is a very family oriented, outgoing individual. I live in Boston,MA and unfortunately very very seldom do I see a parent take so much interest in their child’s well being. This women is an asset to the community, whether you like it or not. I ask you, as a fellow human being, to please stop the crusade against Ms. Bass, and let her and her family be left in peace. The more you try to target her, the more people are going to aid in her defense. There are murderers, rapists, kidnappers, bank robbers, and an assorment of other criminals in Michigan, and wasting tax money in this economy to prosecute someone for growing vegetables, and then for not having a dog license (Which she allegedly showed to the prosecution already) is utterly outrageous. The longer this drags on for, the more people will get involved. Laws are meant to keep bad things from happening, not to prevent good things from happening. I believe that if this drags on for another week, there will be well into the hundreds of thousands of supporters for this women, and she will have a field day in court with your prosecutors. Please Mayor, and Councilpeople, see to it that Julie Bass is given her dignity back, as you are slowly trying to tear it apart.
    Kind Regards from a Concerned Citizen,

  233. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 14, 2011 @ 18:40:22

    hmmmmmm- i don’t know how to do that, but i will post your message…

  234. Thomas Saffold
    Jul 14, 2011 @ 19:39:25

    I will simply say, I support you for MOST of the reasons others have voiced and will be praying for you (are prayers from Muslims OK?) on the 16th. And do not be afraid to contact your supporters if you need financial assistance or want people to join a demonstration on your behalf.

  235. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 14, 2011 @ 19:43:20

    thank you!

  236. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 14, 2011 @ 19:54:35

    thanks for the far-away support! it’s so nice to “see” you again!! 🙂 -trademark mrs. bass

  237. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 14, 2011 @ 20:04:25

    wow- i just checked out your page and your story on me and i like it! what can i do to help you? i will email you privately in a minute…

  238. Veggie Grower
    Jul 14, 2011 @ 21:31:18

    We all support you!

  239. steve jones
    Jul 15, 2011 @ 11:26:08

    Hey folks-

    Support from a global environmentalist…
    Absolutely INSANE these governmetn officials are.
    Growing is NEVER illegal anywhere on this Earth!

    Steve Jones
    Global Environmentalist
    Colorado USA


  240. Lisa Lovello
    Jul 15, 2011 @ 12:36:54

    I noticed your useful link section covering the publicity you’ve received for your garden. Would you be interested in adding this Newsy link? It’s a round-up of all the national media coverage you’ve received.


    Thank you!

  241. donnasalvini
    Jul 15, 2011 @ 12:57:41

    Yup that dog license thing is totally punishment to you for making them look bad. Let’s hope they simply back off and take your money. But continue to watch out. I wouldn’t let the kids walk the dogs for instance. They could easily have someone say a dog “bit” them. or something alone those lines.

    Not saying to be paranoid, just be careful – now at least. You’ve pissed them off good.

  242. kelli
    Jul 15, 2011 @ 15:41:13

    you’re an inspiration!!!

  243. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 15, 2011 @ 15:46:14

    well thank you!

  244. Nicole
    Jul 15, 2011 @ 15:56:33

    ACK! Did I read it right? Charges dropped?

    “Oak Park Drops Charges Against Julie Bass and Her Vegetable Garden”

    Congrats hon! It mentions in the article that the internet hoopla, facebook sites, and public support helped a little. I’m so happy for you! Now, you must help us all make raised gardens in our yards!

    You’ve been such an inspiration!

  245. thebardofmurdock
    Jul 16, 2011 @ 05:51:50

    Julie –
    Hope this provides a little more amusement.

    Anarchy in Oak Park

    Your honor, may it please the court,
    I’ve just received a new report
    Detailing crimes of Julie Bass,
    The woman who despises grass.

    I’m sure your honor was informed
    About the way Ms. Bass transformed
    Her yard into a veggie bed,
    Without the city’s go ahead.

    But now, your honor, we’ve found more
    Examples of her civil war
    Against the city and its code;
    And this time it’s the mother lode!

    We’ve noticed that Ms. Bass surrounds
    Herself with two unlicensed hounds,
    Which she allows to freely roam
    Both in her yard and in her home.

    Our public safety is at stake!
    If we allow Ms. Bass to break
    The law without a consequence,
    Anarchy will, no doubt, commence.

    And having left unturned no stone
    We think your honor should make known
    That since the charges count as three,
    Her crimes must now be called a spree.

    With ‘three strikes’ laws still on the books
    To deal with anarchists and crooks
    Like Julie Bass, the outlaw wife,
    We seek a prison term of life.

    And when she’s safely locked in jail
    For living well beyond the pale,
    We’ll then resume our normal lives
    As Oak Park men with Stepford wives.

  246. Dino Dad
    Jul 16, 2011 @ 08:26:13

    I had hoped this nonsense the city is putting you through was over but sadly the officials of Oak Park insist on making Michigan a Gulag for dog lovers and gardeners. As one of the countless supports you have outside Oak Park, I sent the City Planner the following email:

    “I have to say your decision to rule that vegetable gardens can’t be planted in front yards tarnishes city planning and code enforcement and clearly invites ridicule for the rest of us Michiganders. God forbid someone might want to eat food from their own ground that is not coated in poisons and pesticides. I suppose if you had been the city planner during World War Two you would have sent owners of Victory Gardens to the gallows. Don’t you have anything better to do for Oak Park than let some narrow minded neighbors turn you into the Gestapo of Garden Control?”

    Hopefully the city elders including the Prosecutor will wake up and smell the virtual stink his vendetta hath wrought and you can get back to mulching, kid control and relaxing with Nora Roberts.

  247. Elliott
    Jul 16, 2011 @ 18:58:11

    This is important:

    Write a Demand Letter to the government official(s) abusing his power under USC 1983 for violating your civil rights under color of law. Demand that they Cease and Desist immediately and also demand that they notify you who their bond holder is and give them a demand to respond in 3 or 5 days. Sign and Send certified mail.

    If they don’t respond in writing sue them in *Federal Court* under 1983. You must ask for damages (money) and a Cease and Desist order. The less you ask for the cheaper it is for their insurer/bond holder to settle rather than pay legal fees. You can do this yourself if you start learning a little about the law. While he is in litigation he will not be able to take out any loans or sell any large property items. This applies to you if they sue you back which is most unlikely. (For what?)

    They have 20 days to respond to the suit. If they don’t you move the court for default judgement.

    You have the advantage with the media behind you. Also, demand a jury trial.
    I have used this threat before. But you must be determined to carry it through for it to be effective.

    I am not giving legal advise, only what I have done myself.

  248. tamara matthews
    Jul 17, 2011 @ 13:02:04

    …i live i boulder colorado where we can grow veggies in our front yard. i just recieved your blog etc. from a friend in new hampshire. i also have a friend holly hamann who created blog frog which is for community bloggers all at the same time, some are making lots of $ from their blogs, so you may choose to check it out. i think you have an interesting plight. keep up the great work, and you are making an amazing difference in the usa. its important that we be as self reliant as possible. i not only have a garden in my backyard, but two happy chickens. good luck to you. blessings to you and your family for change is progress. (i use to live in port huron in 1971). tamara matthews

  249. Ashley F. Brooks
    Jul 17, 2011 @ 14:30:18

    We dedicated this past live Blogger News Pod cast to you and your garden. Food Revolution Papers by Simon Barrettin Politicson Thu, Jul 14, 2011
    A look at the politics on our dinner plate. And there is plenty of it.
    [audio src="http://blogtalk.vo.llnwd.net/o23/show/2/096/show_2096521.mp3" /]

    We are in California. We have our own garden in pots in our back yard and fruit trees in the front yard. Organic vegies are the best and healthiest. I am a registered nurse. My husband is a lawyer. After colon cancer surgery, my husband landed in and out of a wheelchair for years. By switching to organic food with enzyme supplements, studing thousands of research articles and applied — he is now back to a productive life. Both points of view are covered. Anything we can do — will keep doing shows. Best of luck with your gorgeous garden www howtoeliminatpain com
    In 36 countries.

    You are welcome to join our program. Please e.

  250. willem
    Jul 18, 2011 @ 07:23:40

    From Holland (Europe) with Love.

    Wish you all best in your struggle for having your own garden. Good Luck!!

  251. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 18, 2011 @ 12:25:43

    thank you (with love)!

  252. Frank
    Jul 18, 2011 @ 12:26:05

    Even if Rulkowski’s unusual “suitable = common” definition were correct, it still misses the point entirely, because by his definition, if 95% of people had vegetable gardens in their front yard, then growing a lawn would HAVE TO become illegal (as that would then become the unusual thing to do), and there would STILL be no liberty.

    There is a negative economic effect too. Property is already very expensive for the average family. By allowing landowners to maximize the utility of their land, you reduce the size of the property required (and therefore the cost) to attain a certain desired quality of life.

    If I want a vegetable garden on my yard, I can either:
    (a) give up a large part of my back yard, which I utilize for quality of life reasons, e.g. kids playing, barbecues etc.,
    (b) use the front portion, which is anyway underused and goes to waste, and then have decent quality of life in the back yard, or:
    (c) buy a larger property, so I can achieve the same quality of life in the back yard (vegetable garden and space for kids and barbecues, and a lawn in front on which you do absolutely nothing and which goes to waste).

    If the state forces you by threat of violence to allocate 30% of your property to un-useful, unproductive and costly uses that do not increase the quality of life, they are literally forcing you BY LAW to either underutilize your land dramatically (and therefore live a lower quality of life), or forcing you to pay a LOT more in order to attain the same quality of life.

    In a time when so many are struggling to make ends meet this whole thing is absurd. People would get more out of the space available if allowed to use the available space better.

  253. Inform Infect Spread
    Jul 18, 2011 @ 16:39:58

    Hello I’m a host of an internet talk show wherein I give those a voice who are in need of having one. I also run a news page. I announced during my interview with Julie Bass that i’m starting a campaign for Oak Park Mich. and the rest of the United States called “Growing for Freedom”. I’ve decided that if anyone in Oak Park Mich. want’s to start a small garden in their yards I’d supply all natural non-gmo, non-hybrid seeds. If you are interested in creating your garden you can find the facebook link on Julies page under “Other blogs and websites we like” Also you can email me at americansanscullotes@gmail.com If you are in the United States and wish to create your own “Freedom Garden” email me for details.

    Stick in there Oak Park, things will get better if you make it better.

    -Pleb Bob

  254. Amy
    Jul 18, 2011 @ 19:13:54

    Look what was on Tumblr with a link to a news interview you gave.

    Someone made a cartoon about your garden!

  255. Inform Infect Spread
    Jul 18, 2011 @ 19:48:29

    Where can I find the full story on this picture?

  256. Amy
    Jul 19, 2011 @ 00:37:26

    Well, I found it here:
    *I believe he just paired the comic with a news piece from youtube.

    Her comic series is here:
    *I guess you could contact her about it.

  257. Grow4Food
    Jul 19, 2011 @ 11:17:08

    Wow! Some areas in this country are beginning to remove lawns because of the water shortage and waste. People are encouraged to use native plants instead of the plants that used additional water. CONCEPT: Why not grow food? At our home at then end of a dirt road…the dirt road was paved and ‘Smart Homes’ were built across the street, but we still grow pasture and ‘food’ in our front yard! Keep up the good work ‘Veggie Growers’!

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  268. Jim Lovell
    Jul 20, 2011 @ 12:26:45

    Please contact me. I know more about this than you might be able to imagine. If you listen to The Power Hour – or Call to Decision – or Dr. Stan, I’m known as Jim from West Virginia. http://archives2009.gcnlive.com/Archives2009/jun09/PowerHour/0603093.mp3 – should let you know what is going on. Please – contact me. I’ve been fighting this for FIVE YEARS – and have paid dearly in the fight – Jim

  269. Jail Time for a Vegetable Garden? | Insurance Blogs
    Jul 20, 2011 @ 15:34:13

  270. Eric
    Jul 20, 2011 @ 17:54:12

    In reading your blog I also have hope that AMERICANS still have the mental capability to stand up. I would love a day without my kids fighting too! lol. Stay strong and don’t let media and mindless useful idiots bring your down. Real history books show that only 3-5% of the people stood up in 1776 to give us the freedoms we are supposed to be enjoying to day. Welcome to the 3%ers!

  271. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 20, 2011 @ 17:58:17


  272. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 20, 2011 @ 17:58:37

    it appears i am in good company!

  273. Jail Time for a Vegetable Garden? | 101 Ways To Earn Money Online
    Jul 21, 2011 @ 09:06:00

  274. russ adams
    Jul 22, 2011 @ 21:58:57

    Please continue to fight the good fight. Hell hounds and demonic veggies aside, you have rights and if you don’t stand up for them nobody will. But, as long as you do stand up for them, we (millions of common-sense and freedom loving un-silent Americans stand with you!


  275. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 23, 2011 @ 23:31:00

    thanks, russ- i am honored to have you on my side! -julie

  276. Jennifer Bunin
    Jul 26, 2011 @ 12:09:17

    Hi Julie,

    I am a blogger for Ecocentric (www.ecocentricblog.org), a project of the GRACE Communications Foundation (www.gracelinks.org). We followed your ordeal and applaud your bravery in standing up for yourself and for ‘outlaw’ front yard gardeners everywhere! We would be honored to profile you for a series entitled “Our Heroes.” Please let me know if you are interested and available to speak with me.

    Thank you so much for your time. Keep up the good work!

    Jennifer Bunin
    Program Assistant, GRACE Communications Foundation

  277. jonas the Prophet
    Jul 26, 2011 @ 16:15:56

    thanx russ.
    it will NEVER be a crime to grow veggies.
    I stand will all good growers of food!

    Jonas the prophet
    Mt Shasta, California USA



  278. freeman
    Jul 30, 2011 @ 00:07:53

    Oak Park may hate veggies, but the free world LOVES Julie Bass. If more people said no to tyranny this would all be over very quickly – do the right thing without fear of consequences & be free!

  279. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 30, 2011 @ 23:51:48

    well thank you!!!!!!!!

  280. Martha
    Jul 31, 2011 @ 12:50:31

    I am very pleased you won the case! 🙂

    I just read the recipe for coconut pudding. It looks like it could be delicious, but I usually avoid shredded coconut because I can’t stand the texture! But I’ve only been aware of shredded coconut when I’ve seen it on top of cakes.

    Does the shredded coconut retain that crunchy texture or does it melt when baked?

  281. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 31, 2011 @ 13:04:14

    i don’t toast the coconut flakes, so they are not crunchy. they are soft, but not mushy. i can’t really think of something to compare them too, but maybe you’ll try it and tell me what you think 😉

  282. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 31, 2011 @ 13:09:15

    hi jennifer! i just sent you an email, so hopefully we can connect soon! take care- julie

  283. Ashley F. Brooks
    Aug 01, 2011 @ 14:18:51

    would love to have you on our live health Pod-Cast. Let us know? http://www.howtoeliminatepain.com

  284. Kristin
    Aug 01, 2011 @ 15:43:23

    Mike McConnell on WGN Radio would love to have you on his show tomorrow about your fight to grown vegetables. From what I’ve gathered, you won your case? I also love your blog! Email me for more details.

  285. thegardenrenegade
    Aug 01, 2011 @ 19:40:54

    thank you! and i will email you in a few minutes…

  286. For the Luv of Art, Artwork from EMILIO'S DESIGNS
    Aug 02, 2011 @ 10:57:13

    like the way you express yourself
    i’m starting to learn to blog

    am interested in gardening, making homemade things and being creative

    our family has a little dog am glad it doesn’t shed much.
    yorkshiere and jack russel terrier

    isn’t it amazing how many of us define ourselves by what we are not ?

  287. thegardenrenegade
    Aug 02, 2011 @ 12:35:23

    absolutely yes!

  288. Joan Pounds
    Aug 04, 2011 @ 00:58:53

    You may not need donations anymore if you qualify for this government grant! People’s Garden Grant Program http://www.grants.gov/search/search.do;jsessionid=LZvpT6lM1hpGYhLTff3hV4WR8Y0YdC74hcyMZpRcQMvnmp2Kx1DX!-1346687983?oppId=108453&mode=VIEW – no joke! This is the real deal. Up to $150k for a garden!

  289. Cheryl Leppo-Roution
    Aug 04, 2011 @ 12:54:11

    Fine and Jail time for trying to save a woodpecker…
    Have to share this link, it reminded me of your story because, once again, innocent people are being harassed by someone trying to “pull rank” on the rest of us.
    sad, sad, sad!

  290. Jackie Dana
    Aug 04, 2011 @ 13:21:27

    On my blog I just posted a small rant against lawns, and briefly told your story and quoted you.


    Keep up the good work – gardening and otherwise! 🙂

  291. thegardenrenegade
    Aug 04, 2011 @ 18:20:53

    thank you! and i will check out your blog in a few minutes 🙂

  292. elizabeth
    Aug 08, 2011 @ 15:42:20

    are you familiar with fritz haeg? his edible estates project, turning front yards into sustainable vegetable gardens in the US and abroad, has received a lot of good press.
    i am sure he has dealt with a lot of local / city governments on this issue.

  293. rawsomegal
    Aug 10, 2011 @ 01:57:37

    hi julie
    i found you on a website with links related to people growing food
    and permaculture – you are awesome! and of note that i don’t know if
    others have commented because they are not or don’t realize that you
    are an MOT and keep it up what you are doing because in the Torah, the One Above says that that are bodies are temples that we need to take care of and growing our own nourishing food, not only feeds the Goof, but also the Neshama – which is of the utmost importance for our spiritual growth
    i am a vegan for over 21 years and also a chef in san diego
    i wish you hatzlacha rabba in your move to seattle and i know you will be very welcome in growing your food, whatever yard you grow it in – front or back
    if you are ever come further south, please get in touch with me – we have many wonderful chabad synagogues in our community and even one at the beach where i live – check out chabadpb.org
    my blog is rawsomegal.wordpress.com
    shalom u’bracha to you and your family

  294. Doug
    Aug 12, 2011 @ 14:37:31

    I live in a HOA restricted community so I know the rules. But in a normal subdivision, this is just plan wrong!!! You grow those vegetable girl !!!

  295. Menachem
    Aug 14, 2011 @ 00:28:30


    fyi — article about people starting to really go with idea of having gardens for FOOD in the front yard not just hte backyard in Long Island.


    If you can’t see the article email me and I can email you a PDF of it if you want.

  296. Michael Pinto
    Aug 15, 2011 @ 12:54:33

    Hi there. I wanted to let you know about a project I started in response to your story. I lead a group in Los Angeles called Project Food LA. Our focus is to bring awareness to issues of food and justice through a lens of arts and culture. Our project is called Common Gardens. We have set up a crowd source map where guests can plot their front yard gardens. Obviously the project title comes from the debate about what is “common” for front yards. The site would hope to document the strong movement to make landscapes productive. I hope you will log your garden in our project and help spread the word. We are just getting started with it.

    It is at http://www.projectfoodla.org … Just follow the link for Common Gardens. It also allows you to post a photo and describe what is growing. Hopefully this will help define exactly how common gardening is in the front yard.
    All the best, and thanks for the inspiration.

    Michael Pinto
    Founder, Project Food LA
    Los Angeles

  297. Christopher di Armani
    Aug 15, 2011 @ 18:28:36

    Hi Julie,

    Just wanted to add my voice to the chorus of support for you in your battle against the Oak Park Garden Nazi, as I’ve called him on my blog…


  298. David Badweather Crow
    Sep 08, 2011 @ 23:07:13

    Hi Julie,

    I’ve been following your story for some time now.

    Just thought I’d pass this story about a mom being harassed by police for letting her daughter ride her bike to school. The article mentions your fight with Oak Park.


  299. thegardenrenegade
    Sep 09, 2011 @ 00:48:50

    whoa- it’s sometimes hard to belive that this world makes sense at all… thanks for posting it here so other people can take notice.

  300. Yoel and Tova
    Oct 09, 2011 @ 14:19:40

    You are my hero. You took on the government and won! And you have become such a celebrity, you were on the begining of the Howard Stern show all last week. I sent you a few emails in the past, I hope you got them. Our regards to your wonderful family. Shana tova umetukah!

  301. Rod Murrow
    Nov 24, 2011 @ 16:27:41

    Hi, Julie – greetings from northwest Oklahoma. I became aware of your issue with the city of Oak Park early on and posted your blog on my Facebook page and after learning that you were ‘cleared of all charges’ I let it go. But yesterday, the heading about the Genesis of the Closet Post caught my eye. Long story made short is that I read your blog in its entirety, almost in a single setting, from front to back. I couldn’t remember when it started, so decided that it was OK to read everything in reverse order. Your family sounds like such a marvelous bunch. I very much enjoy reading your posts – from now on, it will be a daily task! Thanks for taking a stand – and sharing your ordeal – and continuing to write!

  302. thegardenrenegade
    Nov 24, 2011 @ 20:10:10

    well i must say you just made my day! thank you- looking forward to having you post more often now that you are back 😉

  303. Anne Treadwell
    Nov 26, 2011 @ 21:47:10

    This is an error. Richard Nixon was never impeached, which by the way means “accused.” Bill Clinton was inpeached by the House of Representatives, but not convicted by the Senate.

  304. Anne Treadwell
    Nov 26, 2011 @ 21:53:00

    My error this time! Forgot to spell check. Very sorry.

  305. Anne Treadwell
    Nov 26, 2011 @ 22:33:13

    My recollection is that the farmers were required to sell all of their produce to the communist market and buy their own food as everybody else did. It caused shortages, of course, because it killed incentive. Prior to Castro, small farmers sold their goods to any buyer for what he was willing to pay – hence food was abundant. I’m generalizing and simplifying, though. The subject is much more complex. I went to Cuba twice in the Battista years, and once on a legal, educational, philanthropic trip more recently under the`auspices of the Millenium Society. The cultural differences are immense. Cuba in the 50’s was thriving. Cuba now is just plain depressing!

  306. Manager @ Mount Jackson Farmers Market
    Feb 27, 2012 @ 22:36:29

    Hey all! I know you live elsewhere, but we need help, and fast!

    We are trying to start a new farmers’ market in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. We’ve had an uphill battle with our tiny town, but are beginning to gain a bit of ground.

    We are trying to raise $25,000 on Kickstarter and need to get the word out. We only have 6 days left, and still need to raise $13,000. It works out to be about 542 $25 pledges! That’s it. For that, we are giving out a bunch of stuff.

    We have tons of rewards that are able to be shipped, including signed copies of Joel Salatin’s latest book, as well as a private dinner with him. (Joel was on John Stossel Friday night.) We will also hope to have an update video in the next 24 hours, produced this weekend by a former Senior Producer at National Geographic. Why support a farmers’ market in Virginia if you live somewhere else? First, this will not be just ANY farmers’ market. It will be a DESTINATION farmers’ market. So… this is a way to get some neat tchotchkes, plus support the bread basket that is so near Washington, DC. Will be a wonderful weekend getaway place! Most importantly, come and visit us this summer!

    We will also select one “backer” at random to receive a new IPod.

    Here’s the link: http://kck.st/xhSthI

    If you would be so kind to through it up on a blog, on your facebook page, wherever, we would be most appreciative. Please share.

    Thank you.
    Mount Jackson Farmers’ Market

  307. Karen
    Mar 07, 2012 @ 07:01:31

    Hi Julie!

    I wrote you a few months ago (I’m moving from central WA to MI in August with a keen interest in urban planning & urban ag in Detroit). I thought I’d follow up about the Greening of Detroit and A2 people you’d mentioned. But also, in light of what I have read in your most recent posts, I wanted to ask if you had ever heard of or been to the Olympus Women’s Day Spa: http://olympusspa.net/. When I was grappling with some major health issues a few years ago, a friend took me to the Olympus Spa in Tacoma (there is also one in Lynnwood). Even though I am an avowed champagne hippie, I was a bit “unconvinced” that what I needed while grappling with a large tumor, employment issues and other stuff was to spend $25 for a “spa day.” To make a long story short, I was wrong. I suspect it was the combination of the mugwort steam sauna, the salt from my own tears and my plaintive sighs as I fell into prayer and meditation surrounded by the steam that provided such a powerful and palliative release. It might not be your thing; many folks are turned off by the experience (it’s a clothing-optional [robes are provided] traditional Korean day spa), but it is reasonably priced and a soothing treat.

    Anyway, I hope I haven’t crossed a line. If you do get a chance to pass my contact info along to your Greening Detroit and A2 friends, I would certainly appreciate it (I’ll be visiting there next week as I’ve been accepted to the UM urban planning program).

    On another note, spring in Seattle generally sucks. But the summer! Ah the summer! THAT’S what makes Seattle worth it!


  308. dsdalrymple
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 20:12:08

    I wish I could say I’m surprised but I’m not. I read these stories all the time. It’s important for people to stick together on this and get support both locally and nationally. I run an urban CSA in Denver, CO where we grow food in people’s yards both front and back. We recently changed the zoning to officially allow “such behavior” : ) but I was already doing it. I wish you the best and if you have an email list please put me on it.

  309. thegardenrenegade
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 23:14:18

    thanks so much- this issue actually resolved last summer, and now we are happily in seattle- but i appreciate your support!

  310. pixilated2
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 11:08:30

    I love your blog and I wanted to share this most recent newsworthy article with you in an email, but alas I could not find one for you. So here is the link: http://boingboing.net/2012/07/18/thank-goodness-the-authorities.html
    Poor fellow. I have never seen such an interesting and immaculate front yard, ever. Guess his neighbors were jealous. ~Lynda

  311. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 19, 2012 @ 14:29:27

    thanks for the link. in the future, you can email me at thegardenrenegade at gmail.com 🙂

  312. Australia watching
    Jul 29, 2012 @ 22:39:31

    Hi Julie, just letting you know your story is starting to take off down here in Australia.

  313. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 30, 2012 @ 01:24:04

    hi! that’s so great, but in case you are reading this, all of the garden nonsense happened last summer! the charges were dropped and all is well- thanks for checking in, and hope you’ll continue to read the blog anyway! 😉

  314. joe
    Jan 22, 2013 @ 13:43:24

    Hey, notice a traffic spike in the last 24hours?
    An old story of yours has been widely shared on Google+, some may even say it’d gone viral! https://plus.google.com/u/0/104495868343034960513/posts/RUM7K8XYg27

  315. amelia
    Jan 23, 2013 @ 02:26:59

    hi there. just wondering if the “oak park” is in illinois? i grew up there. and, i just found this blog tonight – it’s got a lot of great information, thank you!

  316. thegardenrenegade
    Jan 23, 2013 @ 13:05:44

    no- it was oak park, michigan. welcome to the blog, though!

  317. thegardenrenegade
    Jan 23, 2013 @ 13:30:50

    wow- that’s crazy! but very cool! do you have any idea who this guy is????

  318. Natan Kaaren
    Jan 23, 2013 @ 14:21:39

    I live in Italy — gardening and growing one’s food is part of living even if there are tomato plants on the porch and you are measured by your green thumb and how neat your veggie garden is – any way the “land of the free” doesn’t sound so free – continue your fight to control what you eat — please win

  319. thegardenrenegade
    Jan 23, 2013 @ 14:23:56

    i did! i won in the summer of 2011- the latest fight was in orlando, florida… so even though we are winning one by one, it is crazy that here in america, the fight is still being fought one person at a time… enjoy italy!!

  320. Taylor Ellsworth
    Feb 10, 2013 @ 15:29:09

    Hi Julie,
    I stumbled upon your story while doing research for an article I’m writing about the American obsession with the lawn. I’d love to ask you a few questions about yourself and your experience! If you’d be open to it, please let me know. If not, thank you anyway for putting your story out there!

  321. Barry Dutton
    Apr 15, 2013 @ 13:17:04

    Hi there, I will keep this short, basically I found your note, as I researched some things on how to similarly help my community here. I ran for Oshawa City council in 2010 here, and likely will run in 2014, people keep pushing me to run again. I have a YouTube page where I challenge city hall on many issues, and I wanted to let you know I thank you for your work! I have given you full credit on my Fb personal page in this note— https://www.facebook.com/notes/barry-dutton/grow-food-not-lawns/10151551859823416 – and hope you will look me up or email me back, I am now following this blog. Thanks for all your work!!!!! I watch city hall closer than they like and have been harassed by them, I know fully what you are dealing with, good on ya. Barry Dutton – Oshawa – REALTOR. Community Activist. CouncilWatcher.ca

  322. Barry Dutton
    Apr 15, 2013 @ 13:18:29

    Oh, and here is the YouTube channel with my stuff on it, some compelling stuff here, maybe it will help give you/your followers some ideas how to help / challenge their issues, locally where they are! – http://www.youtube.com/user/BarryDuttonHomes/featured

  323. thegardenrenegade
    Apr 15, 2013 @ 21:12:07

    hi barry- I don’t have facebook (so I can’t see your page), but I did watch some of your clips on youtube, and it looks like you are genuinely trying to fight an honest fight- best of luck to you with that! i’m glad I was able to lay some groundwork for you (however snmall!). keep up the good work you are trying to do; I find that people respond to someone who is sincere and truthful in the end… I hope you will keep us posted now that you are following the blog! all the best- julie

  324. chandanimane
    May 03, 2013 @ 07:32:34

    I have nominated your blog for the Best Moment Award.
    More about this nomination is at


  325. thegardenrenegade
    May 03, 2013 @ 10:09:04

    well you just rock! thank you so much!!! do I have to do anything, or should I just sit here and bask in the glory until I hear if I won or not??? 😉

  326. chandanimane
    May 03, 2013 @ 10:34:04

    LOL You can bask all you want. 😛 At first, I thought that being nominated wasn’t the same thing as winning, but I think that once you’ve been nominated, you pass it on. I’m kind of new at this, but I looked at what some of the other nominees did when I was also nominated, and they reposted using their own acceptance speech. Just follow what the instructions say, chip in your own comments and then nominate others at the end. It’s a nice gesture and fun to be on the receiving end. 🙂

  327. Anne Treadwell
    May 04, 2013 @ 20:52:50

    Great idea, Julie, and Chananimane! You can write a beaut. So please keep us posted here.

  328. Anne Treadwell
    May 04, 2013 @ 20:59:37

    Nuts! No way to correct a typo. So sorry about your D, Chand. Please forgive.

  329. zenpawn » Blog Archive » Urban Gardener Ron Finley
    May 27, 2013 @ 08:58:34

  330. Poki Piottin
    Jun 11, 2013 @ 15:53:20

    Our urban farm (http://gaiagardens.blogspot.com) just got a violation notice to stop operating immediately. We have been operating a non-profit 1-acre farm on a 4 acre property within the Santa Fe (New Mexico) City limit. We are hugely popular and have won several awards (from the City). We need help figuring out what national petition forum we should use if we have to mobilize a national audience (we are still hoping that the City will back down). Please send your response to poki@nodilus.org. Thanks!

    Our mission:
    Gaia Gardens is an educational nonprofit organization dedicated to demonstrating and teaching urban farming, incorporating sustainability and permaculture practices.

    We believe that lasting ecological health and social well-being can be fostered by rekindling our connection to the Earth and reclaiming our food sovereignty.

    Gaia Gardens, as an urban neighborhood farm, defines the unique qualities of a culturally and socially diverse initiative that promotes health and wholeness.

    With Gaia Gardens as a backdrop for a healthy lifestyle, children and their families learn the importance of choosing wisely what they eat. Through Gaia Gardens’ comprehensive educational initiative, they experience first hand how to cultivate the soil, grow vegetables, tend to chickens, harvest what they have grown and celebrate the joy of consuming what they have helped create.

    Gaia Gardens offers workshops and field trips for neighborhood schools, such as Monte del Sol, Little Earth, Santa Fe High School, Santa Fe Waldorf School, Waldorf Wee Spirit Nursery, youth organizations such as Earth Care and Youth Shelters, and treatment centers for addictions such as LifeLink.

    Gaia Gardens currently sustains itself by selling produce, plant starts, earth worms and seeds at the Santa Fe and Eldorado farmers markets, by running a small CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and supplying several local restaurants.

    Gaia Gardens’ goal is to become a key educational center and showcase for year-round urban agriculture in Santa Fe, as well as a center for the preservation and propagation of drought-resistant edible native species.

  331. Jennifer
    Jul 07, 2013 @ 10:16:07

    I read about you back in 2011 – I grew up in Detroit and your story got my attention. With the way Detroit is struggling financially I was actualyl shocked they didn’t encourage you to plant on! I live on Bainbridge Island now and was excited that you’re now in one of the BEST states that support exactly what you want to do. I hope the town you’re in continues to support you.

  332. thegardenrenegade
    Jul 07, 2013 @ 13:34:42

    thank you so much for your kind remarks, jennifer! it’s nice to see you on the blog- i hope you will continue to stick around 🙂

  333. George B
    Jul 15, 2013 @ 02:06:49


  334. Amanda
    Sep 03, 2013 @ 13:16:45

    Hey you… you’re so awesome that when I was asked to type out a list of 15 blogs I like, I could only think of 5. And you’re one of them.. Enjoy 🙂 http://writeinthewrongway.wordpress.com/2013/09/03/for-me-you-shouldnt-have/

  335. thegardenrenegade
    Sep 04, 2013 @ 09:57:37

    HAH! i’m gonna have to think of something more original to say to you than “you rock!” but that’s just what comes to mind every time i think of you 🙂 thanks for the award- now i guess i have to think of something to post on my blog besides a llama on a computer, huh??? thanks, girlfriend!

  336. Anonymous
    Nov 20, 2013 @ 09:45:23

  337. Lorizin
    Feb 03, 2014 @ 18:48:01

    Dear Julie,

    I just noticed the 2011 story about you when looking up something else on the internet.and would love to know what has happened since – has this come to a court case or did the ‘city’ quietly drop it? Do you still grow vegies (I’m in Australia and that is our way of spelling vegetables) in your front garden? I hope you do!
    I feel so strongly about the issue of government bureaucrats stopping us from living quietly on our own property that I’m fully prepared to spend time in gaol if need be – and my time there making a huge issue of it – rather than bowing down to pressure.when the law is obviously wrong.
    We may think we are just ordinary, unimportant people, but it takes ordinary people to stand fimrly for what is right or we will lose every right and freedom we have.
    God bless you Julie, and I trust you are standing strong in your community, and that many others are standing with you.


  338. obesitysolution
    Nov 23, 2015 @ 16:57:15

    Let us begin with edible perennials such: as green onions, mint and edible weeds.

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