The Case Against Urban Agriculture



I find this appalling. 

People should be encouraged to grow food items for their and their neighbors consumption, not punished for it.

The advantages for people, for the environment, are huge especially when compared to the prevalence of the monoculture grass lawns that these municipalities favor.

Grass lawns waste water (a challenge for Georgia since it buys most of its drinking water from out of state) need constant applications of fertilizers, herb- and pesticides that lead to ground water pollution.

Some people need to be shot out of a cannon to join us in the 21st Century where environmental conservation will either save us or the lack thereof will doom us.

Support the new Victory Garden! Grow your own!
Joined Feb 1, 2007
I wanted to let this sit a bit before actually commenting, just to see how others reacted.

There are, of course, several issues involved, not the least of which is: Who, in the 21st century, is going to control the land you supposedly own?

Notice, in the story, that there is no issue over him growing vegetables, per se. What's involved is that he is running a business in an area zoned residential. And the neighbors didn't like either the business aspects, or the quantity he was growing.

So, the first issue is, can (or should) your neighbors be allowed, through zoning laws and restrictive covenents, to determine what you do with your land?

I have a friend who grows a native-plants garden in a city that has an anti-weed convenent. Several of her neighbors complained about the state of her "lawn," and that something needed to be done about it.

It was only when she walked the inspector through the yard, giving him the botantical name and natural history of each plant, that she was deemed not in violation of the ordinance. 

Was it really her neighbors' business what she grew in her yard?

The second issue is enforcement. Assuming the article is factually correct, there's a question about whether the previous owner was violating the law with the knowledge of the county board. And if that was the case, are they not complicit? In which case, going after the new owner is selective enforcement of the law. Should the councilmen who allowed it not be held just as liable as the new grower?

Lastly, we have the issue of responsibility. Here is a guy who, unknowingly, perhaps, violated the law. He fought, successfully, to have the law changed. And now he doesn't want to take responsibility for his previous behavior. That is, he wants the new law to apply retroactively, merely so he is absolved from fines and penalties levied at the time.

I have to wonder how he'd react if the situation was reversed. What if there was a zoning change that allowed certain activity, previously unlicensed, to now require a license and fee. The guy applies for the license, and is told, "oh, you were engaging in this activity for three years before the new rules, so you owe use fees for those three years."

Does anyone think he'd be willing to pay those fees?


Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
If you signed into a Home Owners Association when you bought your home, your neighbors DO have say in what you plant, how you paint or veneer your home's exterior and so on.

I'm glad not to be saddled with a HOA.
Joined Sep 18, 2008
If you signed into a Home Owners Association when you bought your home, your neighbors DO have say in what you plant, how you paint or veneer your home's exterior and so on.

I'm glad not to be saddled with a HOA.
Depending on the particular "zoning regulations" affecting your property, you "may" be in the same boat! In that case, however, it is the gubberment!
Joined Aug 21, 2009
That's crazy.  It's great that he was able to get the law changed but unfortunately he is responsible for the fees he racked up before the changes came into affect. 

I have  neighbours whose backyard is all garden.. do I care?  No.  One neighbour sells her excess to anyone willing to ring her doorbell.  She doesn't do it for a living, but because she has grown too much for her family to eat and would rather sell it than throw it away.  No one in the neighbourhood has a problem with that and even if she was doing it for a living again, no one would care.  My neighbourhood is made up of a good amount of older Italian and Portugese immigrants, and they take excellent care of their homes and gardens.
Joined Aug 26, 2010
It's not a case against urban agriculture, it's all about zoning, ordinances, and how far the government can (or is expected to) go in determining how land is used within their jurisdiction.

A "hobby for profit" is still a business.  Gambling is a hobby if you lose, but a business if you win, according to federal tax laws.  Whether the hobby actually produces a profit is only part of the equation though.  Did he attempt to write off any losses from his gardening ventures on his taxes?  If so, he said it was a business, and thus was running a business from him home.  Depending on how angry his neighbors are, I'm sure they could attempt to get the IRS involved and really make the guy's life miserable. 

The long and short of it is whether he disobeyed the ordinances or not.  He could be making widgets for sale instead of growing veggies.  Trying to spin this into a tree-hugger's delightfest isn't going to change the facts. 
Top Bottom