Michigan Woman could go to jail for planting vegetable garden7:52 pm - 07/10/2011
By Sarah Anne Hughes
A Michigan woman might be facing prison time for planting vegetables.
Julie Bass that it would be “really cool” to create a four plot vegetable garden in her Oak Park, Mich., front yard. “The kids from the neighborhood all come and help,” she told WJBK in Detroit.
You know who doesn't love it? The City of Oak Park. Bass has been charged with a misdemeanor for violating a city code, after she ignored a a warning and a ticket.
“That’s not what we want to see in a front yard,” Oak Park City Planner Kevin Rulkowski told WJBK.
According to the city, a yard must have “suitable, live, plant material,” and Bass’ yard violates the “suitable” part of the requirement, Rulkowki said .
“If you look at the definition of what suitable is in Webster’s dictionary, it will say common,” he explained. “So, if you look around and you look in any other community, what’s common to a front yard is a nice, grass yard with beautiful trees and bushes and flowers.”
This definition may be slightly off. Merriam-Webster gives three definitions for suitable: “adapt to a use or purpose,” “satisfying propriety” and “able or qualified.”
Neighbors interviewed about the garden both support it — “I think it's a very wonderful thing for our neighborhood” — and dislike it — “I know there’s a back yard. Do it in the back yard.”
Bass has a response for that: “They say, ‘Why should you grow things in the front?’ Well, why shouldn’t I? They’re fine. They’re pretty. They’re well maintained.”
A Facebook group, “Oak Park Hates Veggies,” has been created in support of Bass, with organizers providing addresses for city officials. A petition to end the prosecution has been started on Care2 with 1,886 signatures so far.
You can check out pictures of the offending garden here.
I've been following this story since June 30th, when I first blogged about it under the title of Oak Park Woman plants vegetable garden; city objects. I live on one side of Oak Park and work on the other and I've seen this garden in person. It's the tidiest vegetable garden I've ever encountered.
On Friday, the story went viral. A check of Google News shows 66 results for "Juile Bass", all of which are about this story and are all from July 8th or later. Not only are the environmental sites, such as Grist and Treehugger covering it in addition to liberal sites like Huffington Post, but non-liberal, non-environmental, and non-American sites like The Daily Mail (UK) are covering it as well.
As for what prompted this coverage, A couple of days ago, Matt Drudge placed a link to The Agitator's post on his front page with the headline "Woman faces 93 days in jail for planting garden in front yard..." Gawker followed suit. From those two sources, the story spread like wildfire. Behold the power of Drudge.