The majority of the comments made by others in response to that post were from extremely passionate individuals who called it “sensationalism” and it became more of about politics than about the situation. One person said, “this isn’t happening (in Tucson) so why worry?” In truth they are right, but who is to say that this couldn’t just as easily take place in Tucson or anywhere else for that matter? It’s unfortunate that the simple act of gardening, having a greenhouse, hydroponics, aquaponics systems or even keeping animals are being permeated by politics and regulations.
Where Else Is This Happening?
In response to this story I decided to conduct a bit of research to determine whether or not this story in Florida was an isolated incident or something that was at least somewhat regularly occurring. While researching Urban Agriculture Ordinances in other cities I found that unfortunately, it isn’t isolated at all.
- Orlando, Florida, Regulations specify that planted shrubs “shall be a minimum of 24 inches in height” and “spaced not more than 36 inches apart.” The code lists approximately 295 approved and prohibited species of plants, trees and shrubs. *1
- In Oak Park, Michigan, officials have charged a woman with growing a “vegetable garden in front yard space.” If convicted, she could spend up to 93 days in jail. *2
- For 17 years, a couple used their front yard to grow food for their own personal consumption. But in May 2013, Miami Shores Village, Florida amended its ordinance to make clear that front yard vegetable gardens were prohibited.*3
- Earlier this year, city inspectors bulldozed more than 100 types of plants, including garlic chives, strawberry and apple mint, being grown by Denise Morrison in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The inspectors said her plants were too tall, but city code allows for plants over 12 inches if they’re meant for human consumption, which hers were. The woman is now suing the city for violating her civil rights.*4
- A man was fined $5,200 for growing vegetables in his Clarkston, Georgia backyard, which he not only consumed but also sold at farmers markets and shared with friends. *4
The Impact On Urban Farm Animals
I was also truly surprised by the various restrictions and outright bans on Urban Farm Animals. Here’s a random sampling of what I found:*5
- Boca Raton, FL: It shall be unlawful to keep, harbor or maintain within the city limits any horses, mules, sheep, cattle, hogs, goats, geese, turkeys, chickens or other livestock or fowl.
- Lafayette, IN: Livestock of any kind is prohibited in this city.
- Henderson, KY: No livestock. Sec. 6-5 Animal, fowl and bees are considered a “nuisance”
- Rockville, MD: Chickens are not allowed; neither are ducks, goats, or anything kept on a farm.
- Albany, NY: No cows, cattle, horses, ponies, donkeys, mules, pigs, goats, sheep, chickens, ducks or geese are allowed within the City of Albany
- Lancaster, PA: No livestock or poultry can be kept within city limits
- Clarksville, TN: It shall be unlawful for any person to keep or allow to be kept cattle, horses, sheep, goats, swine or poultry of any kind in any residential section within the city municipal corporate limits.
- Fond du Lac, WI: No chickens allowed in this city as they are considered a public nuisance.
It wasn’t long ago that the US Government was urging its citizens to plant gardens on their home property to help support food production and the war effort. Well, though not declared, we are waging wars against poverty, food dependency and our environmental impacts on this planet. What could be more beneficial in those areas than for people to grow their own healthy, non-GMO food or farmed fresh animals at home? Or has big agriculture and politics gotten so big that they are trying to invade every aspect of our lives?
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