Building up to digging down and all around

“Freeze! Drop the rutabaga!”

That’s a line you’re unlikely to hear unless you’re Peter the Rabbit. It’s certainly not something you expect to hear coming from a police officer.

That’d be ridiculous. First, who would steal a rutabaga? Secondly, if you’re using the root vegetable for assault, how do you wield it? Wouldn’t it make more sense to carve a carrot into a shiv? Or use a stalk of brussel sprouts as a club?

Adam Guerrero is facing a less dramatic, but equally strange situation. Okay, maybe not as strange, but Guerrero is facing a situation where, in the words of the Bobby Fuller, “I fought the law, and the law won.”

Guerrero, a school teacher around Memphis, has a nice little urban agriculture setup. A front-yard garden, backyard composting bins and bee hives. But his neighbors couldn’t stand the sight of sunflowers and tomatoes in the front of Guerrero’s house.

From the Memphis Flyer.

But the city’s code enforcement department has deemed their urban garden a nuisance, and a judge has ordered them to remove the small ecosystem they’ve been working on for the last two years.

According to the court summons, Guerrero, a math teacher at Raleigh-Egypt High School, was cited for violating city ordinances 48-38 and 48-87: He failed to “remove personal property” that is “unsightly” or a “nuisance,” and he failed to maintain “a clean and sanitary condition free from any accumulation of rubbish or garbage.”

The “they” mentioned in that first paragraph is Guerrero and three students that help him. The guy helps students learn skills that would be with them as long as any class they’ll take a school but because of some annoyed neighbors, he’ll have to stop.

Fortunately, the midwest is more tolerant of raising food in town. Detroit, once the gem of America’s industrial power, has now morphed to an urban agriculture haven. With so many empty, abandoned buildings, people there have seen the power to create jobs and rehab neighborhoods that urban farms bring.

And now Chicago is following suit. From Sept. 9 in the Chicago Tribune:

Aldermen passed an ordinance that could make growing and selling fresh produce in Chicago easier. The city will expand limits on community garden sizes to about half an acre, allow limited produce sales in residential areas, relax rules on fencing and parking for large urban farms, and allow aquaponics, a system of cultivating both fish and produce.

Go midwest!

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