Monday, July 18, 2011

People Tell Government, `Stay Out of Our Vegetable Gardens`

With so much talk going on right now in Washington, DC about debt ceilings and government spending one issue might be getting overlooked nationally right now and that is the case of Julie Bass, an Oak Park, MI woman, who was facing jail time because she had her vegetable garden in her front yard.

An existing ordinance in Oak Park, MI (a suburb of Detroit) reads that you can only have `decorative plants in the front of your house` as the reason behind the citation in the first place.

“Who determines what’s decorative? The mayor? Your neighbors? The guy around the corner?” says a frustrated Mike Podlesny, owner of Mike the Gardener Enterprises. “I think it’s an outrage that some government official not only tells you what you can and can’t grow on your property, but that they get to decide what is considered `decorative`”

A recent poll conducted by Podlesny, who is the administrator for the largest vegetable gardening page on Facebook ( at over 27,000 fans, and author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person, shows that 97.2% of respondents to the poll agree that Oak Park officials have way overstepped their authority.

Oak Park Mayor Gerald E. Naftaly claims that even though the citation could carry with it a 93 day jail sentence Ms. Bass will likely see no Jail time.

Podlesny continues, “I received countless emails from fans of our page and just couldn’t sit back and do nothing. If anything, Oak Park officials should be commending Ms. Bass for her vegetable gardening efforts and how easily one can grow their own food and feed their families especially in these tough economic times.”

Podlesny says that the vegetable gardening page fans rallied around Ms. Bass and called the mayor’s office as well as wrote letters.

According to a recent UPI story, the charges to Ms. Bass have been dropped. “I can’t say for sure that it was our efforts that lead to the charges being dropped, but it surely didn’t hurt,” says Podlesny. “We just know that we had to do our part to keep the pressure on the local government there so that, if nothing else, they would at least look at how ridiculous this charge was.”

Although the charge to Ms. Bass has been dropped the City as of yet has not changed the `decorative` ordinance so it is not clear if others could face the same charges in the future.


  1. A healthy tomato plant with ripening fruit upon it is an decoration for any lawn...

  2. I think having stone/gravel instead of a lawn put her over the top. Even a meadow, tho decorative, would have *broken the law* if a front lawn was required & I am sure there are a lot of people who are afraid to have a natural meadow front yard, or a vegetable garden there because such laws exist everywhere. And lots of neighborhoods forbid even backyard clotheslines & fences around gardens, though around pools they are required. Laws need revisions.