This City Is Forcing a Family To Destroy Their Vegetable Garden On Their Own Land

A family in Sugar Creek, Missouri has been given four days to tear out their entire vegetable garden or face a fine from their municipality.

Their terrible offense? Planting vegetables in their front yard.

What makes the situation even more unfair is the fact that the ordinance under which the city is fining Nathan Athans and his family was just passed on March 28, 2016. Because of that remarkably convenient timing, Athans believes he is being personally targeted.

 He would move the garden to the backyard but it doesn’t get adequate sunlight, so the vegetables can’t grow there.

The new law says the garden has to be at least 30 feet from the road, which isn’t possible on Athans’ property.

That last word is what makes this all so ridiculous: It is, in fact, private property.

A front yard vegetable garden might not be to everyone’s taste, but that doesn’t justify using the government to force gardeners to comply with other people’s preferences.

Unfortunately, Sugar Creek is far from the only city to pull this sort of invasive nonsense. While vegetable gardens were once actively promoted by the government, in the last few decades they’ve come under fire in many municipalities around the country:

— An Orlando family was threatened with fines as high as $500 per day for their front yard vegetable garden—apparently they’d run afoul of a city ordinance requiring people to plant grass, shrubs, and other “traditional landscaping” options on their properties.

— In Miami Shores, FL, a couple was forced to uproot their 17-year-old vegetable garden in the face of city fines of up to $1500 per month.

— In Oak Park, MI, a woman was threatened with 90+ days of jail time for her vegetable garden. After she hired a lawyer, the case was temporarily dismissed, but could be renewed at any time.

— In Tulsa, OK, city officials actually destroyed a woman’s garden for the “crime” of having non-tree plants taller than 12 inches in her front yard. She was out of work and had been relying on her garden for food while money was tight.

— And then there’s Oakland, CA, where you can grow all the fresh vegetables you want… but if you want to sell any of them, be prepared to buy a pricey permit from the city to do so.

All of these anti-garden laws are born out of two dangerous convictions: First, that the government should be allowed to regulate peaceful, voluntary activities that people do with their own property. Second, that not liking something is ample justification for banning it.

Both of these are dead wrong. While vegetable gardens may not seem like a big deal, allowing this type of state invasion into our personal lives sets a terrible precedent for governance.

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37 thoughts on “This City Is Forcing a Family To Destroy Their Vegetable Garden On Their Own Land

  • April 6, 2016 at 4:02 pm
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    that isnt right at all, what happen to our rights?? There are trying to feed their selfe, but then again the Goverment wants us to be totaly depenable on them, what happen to” private”

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    • April 6, 2016 at 10:52 pm
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      If we are totally dependent upon the government, then they need to feed us. That is exactly what they want o just tell us what to do while they do as they wish. We are useful idiots to them.

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  • April 6, 2016 at 4:43 pm
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    Who are those people? How can we support them?

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  • April 6, 2016 at 4:56 pm
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    What ever happened to common sense? You don’t put a garden in your front yard. There has to be a different location available or if you want a large garden in your front yard move to a rural location.

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    • April 6, 2016 at 6:39 pm
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      Wow, so you think we shouldn’t have the right to put a garden anywhere on our own property?

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    • April 6, 2016 at 7:16 pm
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      Why wouldn’t you put a garden in your front yard? I have a pepper bed in my front yard that looks awesome. We border it with herbs, roses, and different flowers. I understand if you are in some upscale yuppie, “Oh look at me” community, but people like that don’t do anything for themselves anyway. I would have no problem with any of my neighbors growing vegetables in their front yard if it was done in a tactful manner…. which is easy to do.

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    • April 6, 2016 at 7:25 pm
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      You put the garden where it will grow best…PERIOD. Nothing else matters. If you don’t put it where it will grow best, you are wasting your time.

      This is from a guy who had a backyard garden for 6 years and could never grow anything worth a darn, moved it to his front yard last year and had 10x the output and just finished making that garden 4x bigger this year.

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    • April 6, 2016 at 8:53 pm
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      How is the decision to put a garden in your front yard lacking in common sense? How is putting grass and shrubs increasing in common sense? Common sense leans towards the useful. How useful is grass and shrubs that aren’t edible? Common sense is not something the property owners are lacking, it is something their cities are lacking.

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      • April 6, 2016 at 11:38 pm
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        Grass is, in fact, a ridiculous thing to put in a yard. It takes water to grow…and then fossil fuel to mow it back down! Think about it! It was only a short time ago that the government encouraged Victory gardens…

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    • April 6, 2016 at 8:57 pm
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      SORRY JAMES I DON’T AGREE WITH YOUR WAY OF THINKING IF I OWN MY LAND AND PAY TAXES ON MY LAND THEN I CAN PLANT A GARDEN WHERE I WISH TO BUT THAT IS JUST MY THOUGHT

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      • April 6, 2016 at 11:15 pm
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        People like you put junk cars and busted washing machines/air conditioners and old tires in their front yard which is why people/jurisdictions decided that homeowners’ rules are a good idea and we end up with unreasonableness like this.

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        • April 7, 2016 at 12:00 pm
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          I do not live in a community with an HOA and this is why- if I buy my house, it is an investment and I am not going to junk it up- I also do not need anyone telling me what I may do on my property as I have purchased said property – a vegetable garden is planted after Or right before Easter and harvested before the end of August/ September at the latest – then the soul needs to have all the old plants either pulled up or turned under to put nutrients back in the soil and any person that has a vegetable garden is going to do this then in March they will prepare the soil for spring planting- if you know nothing about gardening then that is potentially your problem-but could you not just talk to your neighbor and perhaps you could help with the gardening an get the benefit of the fresh vegetables

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          • April 7, 2016 at 3:49 pm
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            I expect that you all would feel differently if you had purchased a home for $150,000 ten years ago, needed to move and were looking at $90,000 offers because several of the neighbors planted ugly gardens in their front yards. IOW, your freedom to swing your fist ends at the tip of my nose and the purpose of the law is to provide some protection for my nose.

        • April 11, 2016 at 12:09 pm
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          A few tomato plants vs junk car or busted washing machine.not even close… now who is over the top crazy ?

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    • April 6, 2016 at 9:57 pm
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      are you a communist? “Your common sense” sounds like it!

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    • April 6, 2016 at 11:33 pm
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      Why? A garden makes a lot more sense than grass that is only cut and most people use pesticides and fertilizer to make it grow so they can cut it. That doesn’t make sense to me. Yes, a rural location would be a good idea, but that’s not where they live and the ordinance was just passed. Most places the garden would be grandfathered in.

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    • April 7, 2016 at 10:23 am
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      hi a garden should be planted where it gets sun light. to me his garden is beautiful. my grandparents who lived thru the holocaust and depression, planted gardens in their back yard down the side of the house if it wasn’t for grandma’s garden and her canning all she could alot of the family who fell on hard times would of gone hungry. i remember her candied peaches….bought at a farmers mrkt, and the vegetable soup mix which i loved to eat with butter,salt,pepper. her whole front yard was flowers so was the sides of house and back where she mixed in gardens. sad in this country we can’t even grow a garden. saw in another story where a neighborhood put gardens in their front yards, each had different kinds of vegetables and shared. my thoughts and opinion not commenting to ruffle feathers.

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    • April 7, 2016 at 2:07 pm
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      Why not in the front yard? I don’t follow this logic. How is that common sense? Not being sarcastic, just want to know what I’m missing here. While I don’t have a garden in the front yard, I don’t see why it is offensive.

      Reply
    • April 11, 2016 at 8:14 pm
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      if i want my garden in my front yard then that’s where I am putting it , it is my yard.

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  • April 6, 2016 at 6:37 pm
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    This is unbelievable. I am living in the city of Alton, IL. and the way I see it we do not live in America the free anymore. Alton tells us what we can do on our land also. I thought we were America so we could be free to own our land and do what we want. But just one or two individuals that say they don’t like you having a garden in your front yard can ruin it for everyone. Can we PLEASE stop this now before we lose more of our rights? Will someone gather with this family and make sure they do not have to tear out their garden? PLEASE…..lets fight for the right things for crying out loud. Let this become America the free again…..

    Reply
  • April 6, 2016 at 6:46 pm
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    @james, if by common sense, you mean, plant a lawn, feed it with petro chemicals , run a lawn mower with petro chemicals and rely on food in the grocery store that is over priced “organic” or grown with chemicals then I say that common sense is not needed in this situation any longer. Remember we are a free country! Let’s make sure it stays that way friend.

    Reply
  • April 6, 2016 at 6:57 pm
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    If you can control the food and fuel then you can control the people. 🙁

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  • April 6, 2016 at 7:00 pm
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    My sunny front yard is where the snow melts first, because it slopes to the south, and no septic tank underneath. That is why it is full of vegetables! Beside the road, I plant snow peas, cherry tomatoes and cucamelons for my neighbours to snack on when they walk around the block. Is that why they are on my side, or is it because they like to look at my sunflowers and purple orach?

    Reply
  • April 6, 2016 at 7:43 pm
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    New law from the new DEMOCRAT MAYOR. Mayor Matt Mallison wants to be your State Senator.
    The Democratic party consistently seeks to control the citizens. If too many poor people grow their own food, how can they control you with food stamps? If food is not coming through the grocery stores, how can they get campaign contributions from food suppliers, including foreign sources? People growing their own food would lead to smaller bribes from agricultural chemical companies. This list could go on and on. This is much bigger than tomatoes not being pretty to some people.

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    • May 18, 2016 at 3:18 am
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      Very true, Jay. For all the talk of global warming, I can’t see that a lawn does any good at all. It has to be mowed, and maintained, as others have said, it uses water for basically…nothing..eye appeal. By growing ones own foods, a person or family is contributing MUCH in the way of less ‘carbon imprinting’.

      Many foods wouldn’t need to ship to the store, wouldn’t need trucking and the associated fossil fuels, and would provide fresh and healthy alternatives for families- at least during summer and possibly longer if somebody froze or canned their own foods.

      If one wanted to get creative, pot up the vegetables they wouldn’t allow you to grow, and put them all along your walkway. I grow Amaranth every year, in my front yard, for many reasons: 1. It shades the front of the house. 2. Can actually categorize as ‘beautiful’. 3. Totally edible and it has nearly as much protein as meat. 4. And, to be ready for a SHTF situation, I have enough seed now to fully seed 2 full counties!! I would throw seed, too, everywhere, if the need arises and I see hungry people!

      Reply
  • April 6, 2016 at 7:44 pm
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    We can all type little messages here that does nothing or we can all stand together, go to this city’s city hall, telephone or write to this city’s mayor and stand in support, physically, at this family’s garden and fight this tyranny! If we allow this to continue it will grow and I am in Mo. I live off grid on a forest homestead and no one can or will force me to destroy my family’s food plots. I say lets all stand and protest this tyranny in this constitution state and show them the people of MO. will stand and fight! What say you!?

    Reply
  • April 6, 2016 at 8:02 pm
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    This is unconstitutional. The land belongs to the property owner, not the government. This one more indication of the lost freedom this country was founded to preserve. The government does not own the land, therefore has regulatory ownership. Sue the bastards, make a federal case out of it so more people can see what is happening to our freedom. Maybe enough people will get mad enough to change the government

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  • April 6, 2016 at 8:54 pm
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    You are grandfathered in. According to the constitution.

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  • April 6, 2016 at 11:34 pm
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    So we get the phone number, we see if the town has a facebook page and everyone contacts them. That would be the best thing to do.

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  • April 7, 2016 at 1:41 am
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    I live in Tulsa, Okla. and can verify its true here. I receive a “notice to abate nuisance” notice every couple years. My backyard garden is usually part of the complaint. I have pieces from an old swing set I use as frame work that I tie twine to for vining plants to climb and also made pallet fencing around my compost area. The city says it’s junk. They also complain about the honeysuckle vine on my back fence which encourages bees for pollination. It is ridiculous. it isnt visible from the street so whats the problem. If I don’t comply, they can fine me without further notice to the point I would owe so much they would just obtain the property. My daughter started a garden this year and the city came in with defoliant to kill weeds on city owed adjoining land. Of course, they over sprayed and she is losing her garden. How sad is all this.

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  • April 7, 2016 at 4:02 am
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    I know of several situations like this and the focus is always, “the government” is doing this. Well…yeah, but usually it is some “civic” minded John Q Public who says, “Oh My, That is so ugly. My Property values are going to drop and the neighborhood is going to be sooooooo ugly. Let me call my right thinking friends and neighbors, so we can stop this scourge. Let’s get a petition and call our representatives and let them know we expect action. If we don’t get it, we will see they don’t get back in office.” And they have their due legislative process and quietly a resolution is passed and BAM! You can’t have a garden in your front yard.
    I guess it’s easier to say “Damn the oppressive government.” than looking at our meddling, judgmental, closed minded insecure neighbors.
    What can we do? Do what they did. Let the politicians know that this is unacceptable and work to have it changed the same way it was created.

    Reply
  • April 7, 2016 at 11:56 am
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    That is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard! That is why I live in no mans land…deer are my worst enemy..

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  • April 7, 2016 at 12:31 pm
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    Ex Post Facto. Simple. Cannot hold him to consequences for this law as his garden has existed prior to the law being passed. A half decent lawyer could win this case.

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  • April 11, 2016 at 5:16 am
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    “Their terrible offense? Planting vegetables in their front yard.”

    Those two sentences make me sick to my stomach. It’s almost like we’re not allowed to eat our own food anymore in America. They want us to drive down to the local Macky Donalds to pay some taxes on a hamburger.

    Reply
  • April 22, 2016 at 3:38 pm
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    philosophies etc. aside, at this moment these people need relief. From what I have read of law, and strictly from what I understand of what I read, there seems to be a thing called a ‘motion to show cause’… so if the city, or anyone, wants to use force of law against someone, they can be required to appear in a court and ‘show cause’ as to how and why the subject of the complaint is detrimental, unsafe, or any sort of an actual hazard to the public or the accused themselves.
    From what I read of the Constitution and the injunction against ‘unnecessary interference with the lawful daily affairs’ of citizens, there must be a notable danger, hazard or other notable nuisance factor for the government to intervene in private lives on private property.

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  • May 17, 2016 at 6:43 pm
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    I’d love to challenge the “traditional” landscaping wording. I’m betting you can find some pretty darn “traditional” food producing gardens in the front of homes 😉

    Reply

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