Open Letter Regarding Growing Food…

August 9, 2012

This is a letter written by Julie Bass, a forefront advocate of front yard gardening. It entails the stresses and harassment that front yard gardeners have received in recent times, and aims to help put an end to such oppression. She has her own blog, and the letter can be found HERE. While the letter does focus primarily on front yard gardens, it lends advocacy towards all home based food practices. It is an “open letter”, and she has given permission to revise it in any way that helps tailor it to people’s individual needs. Please take a look at her site, and feel free to share it, as well as the letter with any public officials, or other persons that can help our cause. We can only retain freedoms if we fight to preserve them

Again, her site and the letter can be found here:


Like an Energizer Battery…

August 5, 2012

I apologize for taking so long to write since the appeal.  It has been difficult to even entertain what I want to say. On July 25th, we “won” our appeal, but it really feels like an empty win. It was obvious from the start, to all parties involved, that our endeavor was within code. The fact that the City pursued this for 4 months just shows how much the deck is stacked against us. I have come to find out that since the garden is not prohibited by ordinance, Council has deemed it necessary to write a “garden ordinance”. There is no way to know at this point what this ordinance will entail, but City Manager John Shaw made it clear in May that we would have to adhere to any new regulations drafted, and scoffed when I mentioned we should be grandfathered in.

Media Circus

July 27, 2012

It’s been so hectic.  The Post-Dispatch has a new article on the garden, and I’ll be on Fox2 this morning. I promise to post details of the appeal today or tomorrow. Channel 5 this evening, and possibly the NY Times in the coming week.

Our garden picture with almost 1000 comments!!! -Post Dispatch

Freedom Center of Missouri -Civil Rights Activists that took our case


Another Creepy Drive By…

July 10, 2012

Yesterday, July 9th, 2012, Code Enforcement once again sat in front of my house in an intimidating fashion. This happens on a weekly basis, even though they have been told by the City to “leave us alone”. A video of this encounter can be seen at: Code Enforcement 7-9-12

*UPDATE* Written July 17th

I posted the above just after midnight, and a few hours later, went to the ER at St. John’s Mercy. I have a 5mm kidney stone that has deposited itself in my upper ureter on my left side. The pain is excruciating, and though I’ve gone through 10 prior ER worthy kidney stones,  and hundreds of smaller ones I suffered through at home, this one seems different. I’ve been retaining water in my extremities, having chest pains, lightheaded and short of breath. I was sent home to wait it out with a prescription for Percocet. The meds did nothing for the pain, and I returned to St. John’s later that day.  A few more tests, and I was sent home with Vicodin this time. Again, they did nothing for the pain. I ended up being admitted to St. John’s, and was kept for 4 days, with no change in my stone placement. It has been lodged in the same spot for more than 2 weeks now. I’m sadly uninsured, and was told at the hospital that any procedure to remove the stone is “too expensive”. Clinics that provide free or sliding scale cost services have a six week application time. Due to my chronic kidney condition, I’m unable to be insured. Due to my not being insured, I can’t be treated.

I left the hospital, picked my son up from a friend that graciously watched him, and returned home. I spent 3 hours weeding, trimming, pruning, and harvesting my week’s neglected garden. I hope the City got pictures while I was away. It was in rough shape. I wish it didn’t seem like such a chore. I’m under extreme scrutiny, and it’s overwhelming. Not to mention, 2 weeks of 105+ temps here in St. Louis offered some neglect as well. Stress + dehydration = $20,000 in additional medical debt. You should see the list of things I’m not supposed to eat in order to help reduce my kidney stone development. Leafy greens, beans, soy, meat of any kind (especially red meat), sweet potatoes, caffeine, processed foods, canned goods, (will continue later, wifey needs the comp)

I’ve tried.

July 6, 2012

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We received a letter in the mail today that was also sent to all of our neighbors within 185 feet of our property. Propaganda at it’s finest. This letter stated:

“The owner of 309 Louisa wishes to utilize his property, currently zoned R-1D, for agricultural purposes by planting tall crops which will cover the entire front yard of the property. City Staff has determined that such use is not allowed within that zoning district under Chapter 49, the Zoning Ordinance for the City of Ferguson and, otherwise, constitutes a nuisance. The owner appeals that determination.

In the event that Board finds that the City staff’s interpretation of the Zoning code and nuisance provisions is not correct and that the owner is allowed to plant tall crops covering the entire front yard, the owner has applied for variance from all setback requirements to allow the planting of tall crops up to the property boundary line.

All persons interested may appear and be heard at that meeting.”

Stating that we are committing unlawful acts when we are not is slanderous.  My garden does not meet Ferguson’s own definition of agriculture. Our residential district is zoned for agriculture, but since we don’t meet that criteria, it does not apply. Roughly one third of our front yard has grass, so I fail to see how we are planting our “entire front yard”. Also, to say we are “planting tall crops which will cover the entire front yard of the property” is an insult, inaccurate, and as well, very misleading.  There are over 50 plant varieties in our front yard. Less than half of them I would consider to be “tall”. We are not seeking a variance, for there are no ordinances to waive. The only action that should have been taken by the City, is to have had Council write an ordinance against our endeavors months ago. Instead, they have cited irrelevant, if not fraudulent ordinances, have attempted to intimidate us, and have harassed my family for four months now without justification.

Take a poll…

June 25, 2012

At 2:30pm today, Code Enforcement officer Brian Harper drove down our street, briefly stopped in front of our house, continued to the end of the street (dead end street), and then turned around. On his return trip, he sat in front of the garden for about one minute, before leaving the street entirely. He didn’t stop by any other homes, or take any time to inspect other properties besides our own. While I understand it is a public street, I don’t feel it was appropriate for him to stop in front of our home, and gawk at our garden for such a length of time. Code Enforcement has been told by the City to “leave us alone” until after our Board of Adjustment appeal. Do you consider this continued harassment, or am I over-reacting?

Without Purpose…

June 23, 2012

I cut my grass today, in a rather angry fashion. I shaved it to within a literal inch of it’s life, in hopes that it will be nearly a month before I have to cut it again. I used 32 minutes of time, and just over half a gallon of gasoline. It’s seldom realized that there is a 10’x20′ patch of lawn between the garden and the driveway. My garden truly doesn’t take up the “entire front yard”. My fiance just so happened to talk me out of planting it, this year. I was actually able to get the mower inside the garden, and cut back a couple areas that didn’t grow in as hoped. I had been just trimming it back by hand.

Nature can not be tolerated in a front yard, let alone a front yard garden. I murdered many wild “weeds”, all attempting to live, feed themselves, thrive, find their place, etc. I suddenly felt a deep connection to the vegetation I was destroying. Their dilemma was truly no different than my own. An entity, of self appointed power, deciding what will happen without rational understanding. This garden growth had not wronged me in any way. They were not unsightly prior to their annihilation. Now, exposed dirt and severed roots lay where once was greenery in bloom.They did not give off an offensive odor. They weren’t harboring infestations of plague ridden vermin. They were only existing. They exerted a minimalist impact on this world. They took no more than they needed. They harbored no ill will towards any other life. They did not waste, they did not want.

Our ordinances state that weeds, vines, and overgrowth do not include cultivated plants, or vegetation in gardens. Regardless, it can be assumed that if I decided against “maintaining” my garden, it would cause additional hardship towards our situation. Here ordinances do not matter as much as opinion does. I’d rather let them all stay.