Friday, July 8, 2011

Letter to Oak Park in support of front yard veggie garden

Some of you know that I grow vegetables in my front yard.  Within 100 yards of my house there are 2 other homes that have front-yard veggie gardens, a friend of mine across town has her veggies in front, and I pass at least 2 front-yard veggie gardens on my 3-mile drive to work each day.  Preventing someone from growing vegetables in their front yard, as Oak Park is trying to do to the Bass family, is unconscionable. 

Why are flowers, grass, or shrubs better than vegetables?  Why is a carefully tended organic garden consisting of five raised beds less "suitable" than a lawn that requires high amounts of water and chemicals to maintain? 
Photo credit Julie Bass

City Planner Kevin Rulkowski has the Webster definition of suitable wrong.  It doesn't mean "common;" it means "satisfying propriety".  Follow "proper" in the dictionary and you'll find that it means "marked by rightness or appropriateness".  Suitable has nothing to do with "common".  In fact, one of the definitions of "common" is "falling below ordinary standards".  [raised eyebrow]

You can show your support of the Bass family by joining Take Back Urban-Homesteading's letter-writing campaign.  Below is the contact information for the various players in Oak Park who are pursuing this action against the Bass family, as well as a sample letter you can email to them. 

Good luck to the Bass family.  We're here to support you!
You can also sign the online petition at:

SUBJECT: Stop persecuting the Bass family for growing vegetables


Dear _________,

I am requesting that the City of Oak Park, MI cease its prosecution against its residents, Julie Bass and her family, for the supposed crime of growing vegetables in their front yard.

The bylaw you are citing to pursue legal action against the Bass family - that lawns "shall be planted with grass or ground cover or shrubbery or other 'suitable' live plant material" - excludes neither vegetable gardens nor raised beds.  Nor does it provide an adequate definition of the term "suitable".  According to the dictionary the word 'suitable' can be taken to mean 'appropriate'.  The Bass family's carefully tended garden is certainly more appropriate than any overgrown lawn or weed-filled flower bed.

If Oak Park is successful in prosecuting Julie Bass of growing vegetables, the associated charge carries a maximum sentence of 93 days in jail.  It would be a travesty for this mother of six to be sentenced to even a single day in jail for the simple act of growing organic food for her family in her front yard.

By signing this letter of petition I am hereby showing my support for the Bass family, and demonstrating my belief that the City of Oak Park is wrong in its actions against Ms. Bass and the entire Bass family.


Jenn A.
Tacoma, WA


  1. Wow, I can't believe a community is trying to legislate what you can and can't grow in your own front yard. Yikes.

  2. Wow, that's scary. I sure do hope this family wins the good fight! You would expect people to be allowed to grow whatever they please on their own yard. Yikes indeed!

    This Good Life

  3. I think her garden looks very nice! I can believe there are some who have the proverbial stick up their backsides concerning how one's front yard should appear...and that's all it is, appearances. If they are worried about how things look they should take a look at their own gardens and leave the Bass family alone! It's a wonderful thing for Julie to have started! Kudos to you Julie!!!! I live in Sweden and I planted zucchini along the side of my front path and a friend of ours commented how it wasn't proper to grow veggies in the front of the house, they didn't do that here...I said, it was my house and look how beautiful the zucchini flowers are! :-)

  4. Just signed a petition and added my own note regarding how the government encouraged patriotic Americans to grow their own during our World Wars. It is absurd that they are persecuting and prosecuting this family.