In Drummondville, Quebec, one couple decided to turn their useless front lawn into a productive vegetable garden. While this seems like wonderful news, city officials feel differently — and they’re ordering Josée Landry and Michel Beauchamp to cut down or move nearly three-quarters of their plants by July 24. After that date, the couple will be fined up to $300 a day until they have gotten rid of most of their garden.
In the fall, the bylaw will apply to all front lawns in the city. This attempt to unify residential properties will limit food gardens to occupy, at most, 30 percent of any front lawn. For residents like Landry and Beauchamp, whose front yard is the only location with enough sun exposure to grow vegetables, this effectively means they will be back to supermarket shopping.
“If this garden is deemed illegal, we’re in deep you-know-what,” said Roger Doiron, founder of Kitchen Gardeners International, a nonprofit that educates and empowers people to grow their own food. He believes many changes are necessary to the current food systems, including changes to government priorities and finding ways to incorporate gardens into our living spaces.
Actions similar to what’s happening in Drummondville have taken place elsewhere, such as in Tulsa, where Denise Morrison is suing the city for cutting down an edible garden of more than 100 plants in June. And in Clarkston, Ga., where gardener Steve Miller was fined for planting too many vegetables. Similar reports have come from Oak Park, Mich., and Chatham, N.J. That’s right, public employees all over North America are spending their time policing the lawns of citizens looking to grow their own food.
Take action: Let Drummondville council members know you support home gardening.