Missouri Mayor Fining Families For Food Gardens!

The Athans family

The Athans family

In the town of Sugar Creek, Missouri a family is being fined for having a vegetable garden in their front yard. Why is a typical first response. How can a person not ask WHY someone would be fined for growing vegetables?! It sounds absurd, and well - it sort of is. What we do know is that Nathan Athans said he planted the garden in his front yard because it gets optimal sunlight. His backyard only gets sunshine for about two hours per day, and only in certain areas. So naturally, this was where he would want to grow his home garden.

But when did the problems with city government begin? Last year, when Athans was fined for having weeds in his front yard garden. The man did as he was told, removed said weeds, and paid his fine, without complaining. However, any half-way experienced grower knows, weeding is inevitable. And is not in any way dangerous to neighboring homes or families. However, keeping your garden clean is like keeping your room clean, it has to be done and it's not always fun. 

At this point Athans is doing as he is told and is keeping the weeds contained. He has already paid the city money for having his vegetable garden. Why do they want more? A question so many Americans ask for various reasons. This time though - it seems to be a reach. The man has spent hundreds of hours working hard on his family's garden, and he feels passionately about providing the organic nutrition his loved ones deserve. What in the world is so wrong with that? We honest have NO idea.

The city's new ordinance (passed on March 28th) forbids front yard gardens to grow food within the first 30 feet of front yard space from the street (um, again we ask - why???). Mayor Matt Mallinson both passed and approved this ordinance and only gave families until April 1st to comply (seems unnecessarily fast). However, the strange thing is that the Athans family happens to be the only one in the city with a front yard garden. So, Mallinson may as well call it the "Athans Family Ordinance". We are not sure what's happening in this Missouri town, or how the vegetable garden became such an issue, but somewhere there seems to be an abuse of power.

An expert from Mallinson's own Facebook page states that "the Board of Zoning held a public hearing to discuss clearing up some of the language in the existing ordinance and voted unanimously to change the ordinance as they did. Again, this was done after a public hearing, in which everyone that wanted to be heard was given an opportunity to speak, there were none in attendance that were against the ordinance. Another public hearing was held before the Sugar Creek Board of Alderman who voted unanimously to accept the change. The Mayor (myself) does not vote, except in the situation of a split vote. I am the one that signs the ordinance."

But still we wonder if the Athans family was made aware of these public hearings by the Board of Zoning. It seems strange there was nobody else in resistance. Regardless, while we understand sometimes, even in democracies, laws are passed that seem unfair. And the rules are the rules. We hope Americans get on-board and start to fight against these laws, and move to make positive changes for our health and environment.

Obviously, some people of Sugar Creek have a problem with front yard vegetable gardens. But what we can't seem to find is any information (or personal statements) as to why. This new ordinance is now forcing the Athans family to remove the garden entirely. They have spoken out and published an online petition in the hopes to stop what they call the witch hunt against them. And hopefully, this little blog post and many others will help the family reach a large audience of supporters. We need to come together in support of our fellow citizens health and freedoms, and in support of our communities and our human right to grow and harvest.

The entire thing seems strange to us. How on earth does a city government have the power to even vote on something like the right to garden on your own property? No system is perfect, but this needs to change. The Athans are not growing illegal substances, and they are not growing harmful food. If anything, their garden is helping their community!

Below is an excerpt from the family's petition that may help you better understand.

"We believe in sustainability, growing our food locally without pesticides and excessive fertilizer use, reducing our need for fossil fuels to import produce from other countries, countries that have little or no regulations on pesticide use. Sugar Creek is also prone to flooding, as it is located next to the Missouri River, so using our yard for growing plants instead of grass is beneficial because our garden takes in water as well as holding the soil together to prevent erosion, all while filtering out pollutants. It has helped our basement not flood during storms, prevented storm water runoff pollution, reduced fossil fuel use, helped us eat healthier, and prevented us from consuming pesticides and GMOs"

While we love that systems like our Grow.Bar® could be an option for families in similar situations, we understand this problem is much bigger than figuring out how to garden indoors. And the Grow.Bar® can't do all that an outdoor, larger garden can. But, it's a good start. We understand that gardening is so much more than just a hobby, or a past time, it's a natural way of life for us as human beings, and it's a natural born right that should not be taken away. Eating, sleeping and drinking water are not privileges, they are a needed for our survival. And imperative to our overall happiness.

We encourage our community to check out the family's petition and to spread the good word. What's happening in Sugar Creek is not okay (with some of us). And we hope that we can all come together to provide more options for families trying to live simple, humble and healthy lives. What do you think about the Athans struggle? Would you keep paying the fines or tear down your garden? Sign-up and let us know. We want to inspire positive change and we love hearing from our community!