Oak Park, Michigan: Where Growing Vegetables is a Crime

Written by Jason Knapfel for DietsInReview.com

Since when is growing vegetables a crime? When you live in Oak Park, Michigan (a suburb of Detroit) and you do so in your front yard.

“We thought it’d be really cool to do it so the neighbors could see. The kids love it. The kids from the neighborhood all come and help,” said Julie Bass, the culprit of this heinous crime.

She was first given a written warning by the city code enforcers. Then she got a ticket. Next was a misdemeanor charge. Bass’ apparent stubbornness may actually land her in jail for up to 93 days.

Here’s where it gets a bit surreal. When asked by the Detroit Fox affiliate what is suitable for front lawns, Oak Park City Planner Kevin Rulkowski said the following:

“If you look at the definition of what suitable is in Webster’s dictionary, it will say common. So, if you look around and you look in any other community, what’s common to a front yard is a nice, grass yard with beautiful trees and bushes and flowers,” Rulkowski said.

Not that you have to really fact check this definition of “suitable,” but what Mr. Rulkowski seems to forget is there is something called the Internet where Webster’s dictionary has a website. As you might suspect, “common” is nowhere to be seen in the definition of suitable.

The word “suitable” became an issue because Rulkowski referenced wording in the city code that states that front yards must have “suitable, live, plant material.”

Bass definitely keeps her garden well manicured, much better than I’m sure many more neglected yards look like in her hometown. And really, what’s the difference between a bush that bears no fruit and one that has green peppers on it?

“That’s not what we want to see in a front yard,” said Rulkowski.

Apparently the difference between a green pepper and a bush is enough to possibly land the vegetable grower in jail for three months. While I can’t say that I would fight city hall at the risk of doing hard time, I certainly applaud Ms. Bass for standing up for what she believes in and pursuing her right to a jury trial.

What are your feelings about it? Is the city official right, and will she have to move her veggies to the backyard or try a container garden? Or does Ms. Bass have the right to fight this tooth and nail? Speak your mind here and if you feel bold enough, drop Mr. Rulkowski an e-mail to tell him what you think.

Story and image sourced from TheAgitator.com

Mother Facing Jail for Growing Veggies
SIGN THE PETITION: Stop the Prosecution of the Bass Family for Growing Veggies


Connie T.
Past Member 5 years ago

Thesaurus definition: SUITABLE
acceptable, applicable,approsite, appropriate, apt, becoming, befitting, convenient, cut out for,due, fit, fitting, in character, in keeping, opportune,pertinent,proper, relevant, right, satisfactory, seemly, suited....shall I go on Mr Rulkowski?

Joy Jin
Joy Jin6 years ago

ridiculously stupid.

jennifer curtis
jennifer curtis6 years ago

stupid. people are going hungry and city officials are being asses about a simple garden

Parvez Z.
Parvez Zuberi6 years ago

thanks noted

Raymond  Cornes
.6 years ago

Tina Lea, thanks for advising me, I have visited that website that you suggest, and I am of the opinion that there will be a trail at sometime, we just have to wait until the 26th July next after the pre-Trial hearing hopeful the Judge may dismiss the complete case, if Judge does dismiss the case, the matter is finish with. meaning Oak Park cannot bring the matter back to Court, and believe you me the case is costing the tax-payer alot of money, just keep the fingers cross as we say in Britian

Tina Lee
Tina Lee6 years ago

Apparently the charges have now been dropped, at least for now. Here's the latest buzz...

Michael C.
Michael C6 years ago

GOD:   Frank, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there on the planet? What happened to the dandelions, violets, milkweeds and  stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now.  But, all see are these green rectangles.

ST. FRANCIS:  It's the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites!  They started calling your flowers 'weeds' and  went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

GOD:  Grass? But, it's so boring.  It's not colorful.  It doesn't attract butterflies, birds and bees; only grubs and sod worms. It's sensitive to temperatures.  Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?

ST. FRANCIS:  Apparently so, Lord.  They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green.  They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other  plant that crops up in the lawn.

Continued below:

Michael C.
Michael C6 years ago

From the above:

GOD:  The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast.  That must make the Suburbanites  happy.

ST. FRANCIS:  Apparently not, Lord.  As soon as it grows a little, they cut it, sometimes twice a week..
GOD:  They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?
ST. FRANCIS:  Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.
GOD:  They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?
ST. FRANCIS:  No, Sir, just the opposite.  They pay to throw it away.

GOD: Now, let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow.  And, when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?

ST. FRANCIS:  Yes, Sir.

GOD: These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.

ST. FRANCIS:  You aren't going to believe this, Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it, so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

Continued below:

Michael C.
Michael C6 years ago

Continued from above:

GOD:  What nonsense.  At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer.  In the autumn, they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes.  It's a natural cycle of life.

ST. FRANCIS:  You better sit down, Lord.  The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.

GOD:  No!?  What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter to keep the soil moist and loose?

ST. FRANCIS:  After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.

GOD:  And where do they get this mulch?

ST. FRANCIS:  They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.

GOD:  Enough!  I don't want to think about this anymore.....  St. Catherine, you're in charge of the Entertainment for tonight, What's our Movie? 

ST. CATHERINE:  'Dumb and Dumber', Lord.  It's a story about..
GOD:  Never

Michael C.
Michael C6 years ago

If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man's superior.

Mahatma Gandhi

Congratulations, Julie Bass, for your positive actions, along with those of CARE2 petition signers and everyone who thought to be involved.

This decision has brought a much needed victory to a people who have, in the past, lost so many struggles.

I, for one, awoke today expecting that a long, hard struggle had just begun, as Voltaire once said, "Every man is guilty of the good he didn't do."

Today is now a day of celebration, but remember, our struggle is not over, all around us are those who still wish to deprive you of your rights.

Let us not forget the current struggle of Mr. Maravell and his Organic farm, which in in peril.

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

Mahatma Gandhi