By Beverly Tyree
Stand Up! Join the Fight! We have the right to grow our own food!
There have been challenges with the right to grow our own food in our own yard. The challenges often include neighbor relationships, local ordinances, lack of knowledge, and much more. We, at VGI, know this all too well. Gretchen and other community members fought to change city ordinances in Shorewood to allow growing food in front yards. Prior to that, only backyard gardening was allowed.
Recently, one of our 2017 Food Leaders, Kim Fruin, came across this type of challenge with the City of Green Bay. Kim Fruin, a Green Bay urban homesteader, has worked hard to create a homestead that provides healthy food for her family and an educational setting for her children. In early July, she received a citation regarding her urban homestead. You can read the Green Bay Gazettes take on this here.
The citation indicated that she needed to clean up and remove many items used for her homestead. If not done, she would have to pay $691 per infraction. She was looking at making major changes to all the work she put toward creating a sustainable access to food for those she loves.
Enter the Food Leaders. Kim Diaz, a 2015 Food Leader graduate also from Green Bay, became aware of the situation. Once aware, she quickly mobilized, sending the word out to fellow Food Leaders, to make calls to the city, send messages of support to Kim, and offer to help clean up the homestead. Friends from Green Bay, Food leaders from all over, joined Kim F. in picking up the fight for the right to grow food on our own land. With advocacy and help, Kim F.’s homestead quickly became compliant with the city and the City of Green Bay heard loud and clear that the ordinances need to help urban farmers.
Well Done Food Leaders!
While Kim Fruin’s incident was focused more on non-food related code violations, it is important to be aware of ordinances that may restrict front yard or home gardening. There have been many instances throughout the nation such as Orlando, Florida, Ferguson, Missouri, Sacramento California, and much more where local ordinances have negatively impacted citizens or home owners ability to grow their own food.
Do you wonder if this might happen in your locale? We, at VGI, encourage you to pay attention to local workings. Check with your town or city. Contact them to find out what their stance is on urban farming, gardening, or homesteading. Be Active! Join the Fight!