In Oak Park, Michigan, the Bass family's front lawn got torn up when some sewer work had to be done. After the necessary repairs were completed, the Basses decided that, rather than replacing the grass, they would put in some raised beds and grow vegetables. They consequently installed five large planter boxes in their small front yard, filled them with garden soil and planted tomatoes, peppers, herbs and other vegetables.
Here's the Bass front yard with its five raised beds.
The city code of Oak Park says that yards should be planted with "suitable live plant" material. The Basses thought that vegetables met the definition of suitable. Apparently, at least one neighbor disagreed and contacted the city. Soon the enforcers came out and wrote the Basses a ticket for using inappropriate plants in their front yard. The ticket is for a misdemeanor offense which carries a punishment of up to 93 days in jail.
In the picture of the Bass property that was posted online, their front yard looks neat and well-kept. It is really hard for me to see how anyone could object to it, but the city's Director of Planning and Technology says that the code's "suitable" plants mean plants that are "common" to the area and that includes "grass, trees, bushes, and flowers." Not vegetables.
Now, I'm certainly not a lawyer, but it seems to me that a code that provides for "suitable" plants is plenty broad enough to include vegetables. What could be more suitable than a family using their own property to grow food for their own consumption? I understand HOAs and cities wanting to uphold standards, but why should standards mean conformity and monotony? Shouldn't there be space allowed for individual taste and freedom of choice as long as things are kept neat and are within public health codes?
The Basses vow to fight the city's citation. More power to them, I say!