Garden Nazis

Here’s my dilemma. We live in B’ham, and we just had twins. B’ham schools being B’ham schools, that means in five years we’re going to have to either start shelling out major buckage for private school or else move. Our house is kind of small, and around the same time we’ll probably be outgrowing it. So, if I’m going to have to start spending an extra grand or so a month, I’d much prefer to spend it on a bigger house than on private school. Hence, all signs point towards moving. But where?

No way in you-know-where I’m ever living in Shelby County or Hoover. I refuse to spend more than fifteen minutes commuting to my job, so that (and other factors) eliminates Gardendale, Trussville, Leeds and PelHenaBaster. Vestavia? Probably not; it’s too hilly and car dependant. That leaves Mountain Brook, which I could never afford, or Homewood. We could probably afford Homewood, it’s close to my office, and though it has been in decline for the last few years, it still has some nice parts. But then I read stories like this:

Homewood officials say they could have an Edgewood woman arrested and her yard cleared if she continues to ignore city laws on weeds and litter.

Now this is where we should read about how she has rusted cars and broken beer bottles in her yard, maybe some fallen trees, and rats. What we do read is this: 

But Amy Vickers, owner of Red Rain, a Homewood store specializing in natural and environmentally friendly products, says the organic garden in the front yard of her Edgewood home is anything but weeds. She has lived on Valley Place for seven years.

The garden includes collard and mustard greens, leeks, garlic, spinach and onions. She and her daughter, Madilyn, eat or sell whatever is grown in the garden.

“It’s nice to eat food and you know where it’s from … from start to finish,” she said. She said she prefers to plant the garden in her front yard because it’s the sunny portion of her property.

The story goes on to say that she has no idea who initially complained about her garden. Whoever they are, they are a**holes. Good Lord people, why don’t you go talk to the woman before you call the police? And the city officials who are now threatening to condemn the property and throw this woman in jail? Also a**holes.  By no definition is a tended garden “weeds and litter.” This is using the criminal law to enforce someone’s aesthetic nitpicking.

This would never happen in my neighborhood. For one, B’ham is too busy with homicides to have a garden inspection and enforcement unit. More fundamentally though, no-one in my ‘hood would be anal enough to complain about it. Far from it, most of the folks around me would probably be inspired to do something similar. How ridiculous.

Here’s a picture (from the news article) of the offending property:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Here’s Red Rain. I have to run over to Homewood Cycle today, while there, I may stop by Ms. Vickers’s store and tell her to fight the power.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Birmingham, Goobers, The Environment

11 Comments on “Garden Nazis”

  1. Dan Says:

    I hate people sometimes.

  2. Dystopos Says:

    I wonder how having busybody jerks as neighbors affects property values. Maybe Ms Vickers could have the city send a contractor out to dig the sticks out of their collective asses and place a lien on their homes to pay for the trouble.

  3. demopolite Says:

    …now I remember why I live in the boonies of Tuscaloosa County! Every time I get a little tired of my 25 minute drive, I think of all of the busybody jerks who would want to control my lawn, dog, fence, porch, roof, shutter color, and — yes– even the volume level at which I play the violin; then, I pop in another CD, sit back, and enjoy the commute. I will grant, however, that enjoying the commute is a lot easier when you are commuting to Tuscaloosa rather than Birmingham.

    Give Ms. Vickers a “Fight the Power!” from your southern neighbor.


  4. […] The woman who is about to have her property condemned and herself thown in jail because she grows spinach in her front yard does not know who turned her in to the authorities. Maybe Homewood has a chapter of Hitler’s Youth:   You know, I sometimes think people who describe the public schools as brainwashing or indoctrination centers are overstating their case. Then a story like this comes along: Beware Fayetteville homeowners with trash or old tires in overgrown yards: Children might be watching.An educational program to teach kids how to spot building and property code violations — complete with colorful characters such as “Willie Weeds” and “Trashy Tina” — will be in the hot little hands of local children soon, thanks to Fayetteville city officials. Explore posts in the same categories: Uncategorized […]

  5. Kathy Says:

    Okay, what I said in the comments to the later post. Also, there are parts of Vestavia that aren’t totally car-dependent. Both K-3 schools in “old” Vestavia are quite near Highway 31 (in fact, all the schools except the high school are right off of Highway 31), and there’s been major sidewalk building going on in the area over the last few years, with the goal of connecting all the schools and the city center.

  6. Frank Says:

    How is spinach a weed? Or collard and mustard greens, leeks, garlic, or onions doe that matter?

    A suggestion. Has Homewood defined what constitutes a weed? If not, what is the basis for the action by the enforcement officer? Webster defines a weed as “a plant considered troublesome, useless, or unattractive, especially one growing abundantly in cultivated ground.” If Ms. Vickers planted these items intentionally, then clearly they are not weeds since she clearly does not consider them troublesome or unattractive, and no one can dispute that the described plants are, in fact, useful. Homewood would appear to have a case only if the ordinance expressly defines the described vegetables as “weeds” or, alternatively, if Homewood has an ordinance requiring a planted lawn with the species of grasses that can be used defined.

    I’ll admit that I am not a lawyer, but as the Planning Director for a city significantly larger than Homewood I cannot see how the citation can stand as issued, if your desription is accurate — and yes, we have a weedy lot ordinance and yes, I have acted on cases that are in violation but no, growing the vegetables described above (or wildflowers, for that matter) would never be cited as a violation.

  7. Don Says:

    Two things: [1] In another context Rodney King asked if we can’t all just get along which was likely his only contribution to society, but apparently someone didn’t listen. [2] Wheeler, there’s an alternative to shelling out dough for a private school, many of which may not provide what you want as well as some things you don’t want, and moving to somewhere that would be too distant from your workplace. It’s called home schooling.

  8. wheeler Says:

    “Has Homewood defined what constitutes a weed?”

    i don’t know, all i know about homewood’s ordinance is what the paper said. if that report is accurate, i’m with you, i don’t see how this stands up to a legal challenge. the paper said vickers has lawyered up, so i guess we’ll find out eventually.

  9. wheeler Says:

    don,

    we’ve kicked around the idea of home school. my initial thoughts are good – you get more schedule flexibility and can make sure your kids actually learn something. but we haven’t seriously considered it yet.


  10. […] John Archibald’s take is here. It’s a good column, explaining that this incidentis just another step in Homewood’s attempt to destroy what once made that town great. It also includes Mayor Barry McCulley’s justification for invading Amy Vickers’s home: Vickers is under order from the city to clean up her organic garden of a yard or face possible court action. As the owner of a store that deals in earth-friendly products, she claims the jumble of a yard is safer than the chemically juiced lawns of her neighbors. The city, though, says Vickers’ free-range gardening creates an eyesore, and maybe danger. […]

  11. Professor Says:

    Birmingham does have their environmental police. There is some esoteric method for deciding who gets popped, but once you are “of interest” you are in every bit as much trouble as if you were in Homewood. Unlike Homewood, where the dirty work falls to the Zoning Department, this is a dedicated department, their only goal being to rid Birmingham of unsightly overgrowth and environmental hazzards of all kinds. Where there is government, there is control. Some control is good… I don’t want a cement plant moving in next door! But, where do you stop and who controls the power of Government to spend my money on whatever it wants.


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