In case you haven't heard the story, a woman named Julie Bass was given a misdemeanor for growing vegetables in her front yard in Oak Park Michigan. Yes, you heard that right - growing vegetables in this town is a crime. It's a long story, and Julie tells it quite well here in her blog Oak Park Hates Veggies. Her story went viral on the internet and she was on MSN, CNN, and other news stations across the country. She was also written up in Treehugger, Grist, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, and her article was front page on the Drudge Report. My Take Back Urban Home-steading(s) fb page did a massive letter writing campaign to the city of Oak Park, and spread the word around fb about Oak Park's actions. I honestly believe we made a difference in this case, and I'm proud of us as a community for taking action and effecting change.
A day or so ago Oak Park dropped the charges against her, which is good news, but her battle isn't over officially yet. The city can pick up the charges against her at any time because the case wasn't legally settled. So, they have her on a string still and they aren't letting the poor woman rest which is just wrong on so many levels. The word tyrannical comes to mind, among others not suited for a polite audience. The city didn't officially inform her that they had dropped the charges about the veggie garden by the way, which is very weird. She found out in a round about way, and then they brought up an old issue - licencing her dogs. Apparently the licenses had lapsed, so she had to go in and pay for them for her two dogs, plus the late fee which she did a while ago. She thought the issue had been settled, and even double checked about it, but no. Now she's being asked to appear in court for dog licences, (on the same day she would have showed up for the veggie charges),which she ALREADY PAID. I don't usually use caps, but this is outrageous!!! I feel the city is now harassing her because of the bad press they got over the veggie issue. I sure as heck hope she brings her lawyer with her to court because I wouldn't be one bit surprised if the city tries to pull something. Luckily the mayoral elections are coming up soon, and the person running against the current mayor is totally in support of Julie, and I SO hope she wins!!
So, that's the update on Julie Bass. I spoke to her on the phone this past week and I was so very impressed with the woman. She is just down to earth and real as I mentioned in my last post. The woman wants to live her life in peace with her husband and 6 kids, 2 dogs and front yard veggie garden. Aren't there real criminals out there the city should be spending their time on? Seriously!!!
It appears Julie isn't the only one out there being harassed by the city for vegetables. The same week her story came out another one from Canada emerged. Dirk Becker of Lantzville B.C. is facing 6 months in jail for guess what? You got it, growing veggies! He turned a gravel pit into a veggie farm and sells his produce at a local farmer's market, but laws in this town don't allow for veggie growing, no siree. A petition has been started for him, and people are spreading the word on fb and the net about his plight. I fear more stories like Julie and Dirk's are going to be emerging in the future, and I'm working on several fronts lately to raise awareness and make the government aware of this issue. I have a feeling it's going to be a long term fight, with no short term solutions unfortunately.