People are hungry, economies everywhere are tanking. The answer to that problem used to be “do what you can on your own.” In America, it was the now iconic Victory Gardens. In Montreal, Canada there is a move to defeat such self-reliance.
For some strange reason, helping yourself is the very last thing the governments in both the U.S. and Canada will “allow” you to do; not even on your own land. Stranger still, it is the lower-rung, local governments that show up in news stories extinguishing property rights in the name of almighty municipal code.
Josée Landry and partner Michel Beauchamp decided to start an urban garden for both economic and health reasons, and they even have documented its progress via their family blog since its beginning. They proudly gave their new passion a name – Rosa – in memory of civil rights icon, Rosa Parks, who refused to take her place as ordered by the tyrannical bureaucracy of the day.
Now it seems that they find themselves forced to take a stand for another basic civil right: food freedom. Instead of allowing this garden to flourish and nourish, local officials in Canada now want to make any new front yard gardens completely illegal by autumn, along with uprooting Rosa.
The crackdown on home gardening has been marching across the first world at a rapid pace of late. In the U.S. we have seen a woman threatened with jail for 93 days for front yard tomatoes and a Tulsa, OK woman sued after coming home to find her yard full of herbal remedies and vegetation ripped up and taken. Oftentimes, it’s a power play, and only when enough negative attention is garnered, do the code enforcers back down, usually citing their targets for some other minor infraction.
This latest move in Canada follows a similar pattern; by enforcing an arbitrary code that front yard gardens (also called kitchen gardens) are only allowed, at the bare minimum, less than 30% vegetation. Who in Drummondville, Quebec would create such a code and why? Also, shouldn’t other factors be considered: they own their home, they offer the food to the community without profit, it is aesthetic and has attracted worldwide media attention, as well as some celebrity garden bloggers.
Not only does the city want most of the couple’s garden uprooted and tossed, but they are seriously discussing outlawing all future front yard gardens! The only stipulation being that old gardens can apparently stay as long as it meets the “under 30% of the yard” code.
The couple was facing fines of between $100 and $300 per day if they did not comply by yesterday. According to CBCNews, “The couple said they had no intention of complying with the city’s request.”
As per usual, the local authorities love to vaguely claim that there have been neighbor complaints. CEO of Drummondville, Claude Proulx, called it a question of “uniformity of the urban fabric.”
But, Beauchamp has been open with his neighbors, and they have shared the fun and eats. He has had no inkling of anyone disliking the tidy and delicious landscape, adding, “They love it. Everybody is surprised by the kind of taste we can have from fresh vegetables.” (Source)
And no doubt the neighbors may also be impressed by the changes they see in the urban farming couple: both growing and eating the garden goods has helped Landry and Beauchamp lose a combined 100 pounds!