Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Right to Garden--A Call to Action

A major theme of this blog is that you can save a ton of money on food by growing some of it yourself, whether you can only find room for a plant or two in containers, turn your whole yard into a garden a la Edible Estates (or my Trailer Park Homestead, to a slightly lesser extent), or something in between.  I've maintained that anyone can grow a garden on some scale.  Some readers have argued that that isn't true though.  Some places, anything from areas with homeowner associations to low-income housing apparently have regulations that say that you can't garden at all in any form in some cases.  In other cases, residents are only allowed to grow decorative plants (the example cited in this case was specifically low-income housing).

This has to change.

In this time of economic difficulty for so many people, being able to grow their own food should be viewed as a fundamental human right. 

What I propose is federal "Right to Garden" legislation that would guarantee the right of everyone to grow food in some fashion.  I think that it should state that anywhere that gardening of ornamental plants is allowed, edibles should also be allowed.  If a landlord doesn't want the ground of their property torn up, they should not be able to prevent tenants from at least having a container garden.

I find it especially upsetting that low-income housing would restrict tenants from growing food.  These people are most likely dependent on food assistance from the government in addition to the housing assistance, so wouldn't it make more sense for the government to encourage people to grow their own food rather than restrict it?  This is why I think this should be pushed at the federal level: food stamp funding is largely (if not entirely, I'm not really sure) federal, so these stupid policies are cutting into the federal budget, so that is where the problem should be addressed.

With all this in mind, I'm writing my US Senators and Representative this week, along with Michelle Obama, since this issue fits so nicely with her Let's Move campaign to end childhood obesity.  I urge you to do the same.

I'll even make it easy on you:

Click here to find your Senators' contact information 

Click here to find your Representative's contact information

Michelle Obama can  be contacted at:
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Feel free to share your letters here in the comments and please share this post with your friends so they can help promote the Right to Garden as well!


  1. I'm in!

    I have a few hours in the afternoon each day when my kids have "quiet time"'s a perfect time to start writing letters. I think I'll start with Michelle Obama because you are right - this would fit in perfectly with her "Let's Move" campaign.

    I can also write to the city reps in my old hometown, as well as the Housing Authority that I used to live in (the one that didn't allow food to be grown). And best of all, my cousin writes for my hometown paper - I'll see if I can't get her to write a short article about this subject.

  2. That is a great idea! Reminds me of the Right-to-Dry movement, which battles landlords and HOA's that don't allow people to hang out their laundry. We've got to be allowed to be self sufficient regardless of where we live!

  3. There was a story on the news this evening that demonstrates exactly why protections like this are needed. A lady in Oak Park, MI is being charged with a misdemeanor for growing a vegetable garden in her front yard!

  4. Thats interesting about the low income housing especially consider someone on food stamps can buy seeds and food plants with their food stamps. We bought a ton of seeds last year when we were on food stamps....saved our butts sometimes.

  5. Check for more information. SNAP Gardens cultivates awareness that SNAP benefits can buy food-producing plants and seeds and facilitates successful gardening experiences among SNAP recipients across America.