Last year I had a little run-in with the town authorities over my garden. Fortunately, it ended well. However, for other people around the continent troubles with the local lawn nazis seem more severe, possibly involving jail time! Some of you may have heard of the woman in Oak Park, Michigan who faced jail time over her front-yard vegetable garden. (Charges were later dropped.) Now there’s a story out of Lantzville, British Columbia about a man who is also facing potential imprisonment over a two-and-a-half-acre organic farm in a residential area. This part of his account is particularly interesting:
The previous owner used an excavator and dump truck to mine and scrape the land bare. He had a soil screener set up on the property, selling the soil, then sand, then gravel, which resulted in lowering the level of the property by about four feet. When Dirk assumed ownership, all that remained was gravel. There were no worms, no grasshoppers, no birds, no butterflies; essentially – no living creatures!
Since 1999, Dirk has made a tremendous effort to heal the land, beginning slowly – one wheelbarrow at a time. Nicole joined him at the end of 2006. It has been a gradual, organic process from planting a few fruit trees and having a small growing area, to expanding with more hand-made soil using wood chips from local tree companies and a small amount of horse manure from local, Lantzville stables. Now we have four kinds of bees, several types of dragonflies, numerous types of butterflies, frogs, toads, snakes, hundreds of birds and much more!
To sum up: scraping your land bare, killing everything living there – totally OK. Growing vegetables and fruit trees – illegal.