It was the same old story we've read and heard about several times this summer but with a slightly different twist. Adam Guerrero, a high school math teacher in Memphis, used his front yard to grow vegetables. But he didn't stop there. He had beehives in the backyard. He had a set-up for producing biodiesel and for making soap in his garage. He was working on having a self-sustaining and self-sufficient food growing operation on his small urban lot. Not only that but he was using the garden and the other operations as a way of teaching some of his students. After all, a concept of math is essential to gardening as it is to many activities in life, so what better way to learn than through the practical application of math principles?
Everything was going swimmingly and then someone complained.
It turns out that in Memphis, and perhaps other places as well, all it takes is one complaint for a person's yard to be labeled a "neighborhood nuisance" and the owner receives a citation from the city and has to defend himself. In Guerrero's case, he was cited for failing to maintain his yard in a clean and sanitary condition free from rubbish or garbage. When the complaint became public and local journalists went out to take a look, they failed to find any rubbish or garbage. All they found was a neat, well-groomed vegetable garden. Growing in the front-yard.
Kitchen Gardens International took up Mr. Guerrero's cause and publicized it. They generated petitions and thousands of emails, letters and phone calls to the Memphis City Council on Guerrero's behalf and yesterday the whole brouhaha ended happily. The authorities found that there was no basis for the complaint and ended up offering to help Mr. Guerrero find space to start a community garden where others in the area can begin to grow their own food.
And so another blow was struck for the freedom of homeowners to be able to use their front-yards to grow food to help sustain themselves and their families. What could be more basic and more commonsense than that?