Victory! Math Teacher Can Keep His Urban Garden


Shelby County Environmental Court judge Larry Potter has ruled that math teacher Adam Guerrero can keep his urban garden. Even more, the judge is advocating to help Guerrero find a plot of blighted land in Memphis and turn it into an educational garden:

“I never said you could not have a garden,” said Potter, clearly concerned about the negative attention his court has received of late. “That’s inaccurate. I’ve always encouraged environmental activism, sustainability, going green, and blight reduction.”

Online activism, including a Care2 petition, helped influence the judge’s decision. Guerrero will be allowed to keep the urban ecosystem of bee hives, worm bins, sunflowers and much more that he and his Memphis students have created. He will have to make some accommodations including keeping his front yard garden trimmed, installing a bubbler, introducing mosquito-eating fish into his backyard pond, reducing the number of worm bins and putting mesh covers on rain barrels to keep mosquitoes out.

Jovantae, Jarvis, and Shaquielle, the three students who have worked with Guerrero in his garden, all witnessed the courthouse proceedings with permission from both their schools and parents.  They all described their eagerness to get back to work in the garden, with Jovantae saying “We’ll be back at it tomorrow.”

Also present was Guerrero’s neighbor, Levi Dowdy, who had brought the complaint and expressed concerns about the smells from Guerrero’s garden and the rats he says it attracts. “All the people on Facebook saying that it’s okay, yeah it’s okay to them because they probably live in Germantown or in Collierville, and they don’t have to smell it everyday,” said Dowdy, referring to some of Memphis’s fancier neighborhoods.

Guerrero’s garden not only makes a contribution to his community by creating a small oasis of plants and growing things in the city. It has also served as a valuable after-school activity for inner-city students and has taught them practical lessons in mathematics and engineering, not to mention technical skills. Judge Potter’s ruling is a step in the right direction in encouraging cities to review and even revise outdated codes about agriculture in urban settings.

It’s not an understatement to say that Guerrero’s is now a victory garden in the truest sense of the word.

Thank you to all who signed the Care2 petition to keep Guerrero’s garden growing!

Related Care2 Coverage

Teacher’s Urban Garden a “Nuisance,” Judge Says

Victory! Julie Bass No Longer Facing Jail For Growing Veggies

Gardening On the Rise in Economic Hard Times

Photo by Orin Zebest


Mike Perry
Mike Perry4 years ago


Mariea G.
Mariea G5 years ago

Excellent news!

Sonny Honrado
Sonny Honrado5 years ago

More of this garden!

jessica w.
jessica w6 years ago

that's great.

Carole K.
Carole K6 years ago

I believe that Mr. Guerrero should be able to have his "gardening" projects & use his property to teach ecological lessons. However, one should note there is no mention here of typical plant life (except that front yard grass needs mowed) that is usually associated with gardening. Neighbor complaints center on foul odor, presence of rats & mosquitoes. These are public health concerns; & if the complaints are substantiated by health inspection by public officials; then Mr Guerrero should be held accountable to standards that maintain health & sanitation for the neighborhood surrounding this property. No one wants to live along side conditions that endanger the health & well being of their family. An abhorrent "death smell" stench might well indicate that Mr. Guerrero is not operating his projects properly. Having had experience with such operations previously, I would hazard speculation that the worm beds are not being maintained adequately.

Dakota Payne
Dakota Payne6 years ago

good on everyone who signed the petition and who are trying to help us keep gardening and bee keeping alive and well.......If we want to live......we need both.

Elizabeth O.
.6 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

dve d.
aa b6 years ago

wonderful news ,every one should have a garden

Pandute A P
Pandute AP6 years ago

Nice story. It's always great to hear good news.

Sankarasub N.
Sankarasub N6 years ago

Good to hear the Victory