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Poll: Do Front-Yard Vegetable Gardens Offend You?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
A married couple in Montreal wanted to improve their health, so they planted a vegetable garden (picture at left is a stock photo, not their garden). By growing their own cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, beets, onions and Brussels sprouts (among other fare), homeowners Michel Beauchamp and Josee Landry lost 75 and 25 pounds, respectively, and have improved their diet and their health.
 
Now, according to CBC News (link includes photos of their garden), the couple is fighting to keep their garden, facing fines between $100 and $300 per day if they don't pull up their vegetables. Why?
 
Because their vegetable garden is in their front yard. Neighbors complained, and now the city is planning to outlaw the growing of vegetables in front yards.
 
This isn't the first story of its kind. Last year, the story of a woman in Michigan who faced 93 days in jail for planting vegetables on her front lawn garnered national attention.
 
This has led me to wonder: Would you be offended if vegetables replaced your neighbor's front lawn?
 
I can relate to the homeowners in these stories—to an extent. The 0.10-acre lot on which my home sits is tiny. The backyard is completely shaded by large trees that are hundreds of years old—not to mention, my front yard is actually larger than my backyard and gets all the sun.  I wanted to grow my own vegetables for health, financial and environmental reasons, so I really had no choice but to plant them where I had the space: in front of my house (and some on the side, too). It is within city limits, but not subject to any HOA rules. Although I was nervous that neighbors might not like it, I ultimately made the decision based on what was right for me. Most neighbors I've since spoken to about the garden are enthusiastic and supportive of it. They aren't bothered. Some didn't even notice the plants I was growing were vegetables. Others thought it was a great idea.


Vegetable seedlings in my front-yard garden
 
Had they complained, I'm not sure how I would have reacted. I keep a nice, tidy house and a neat lawn and garden (to the best of my ability anyway). Had the authorities ever gotten involved, I probably would want to fight against it just on principle. In my opinion, it's my right to grow whatever vegetation I choose to on my lawn—or not. I've long held the belief that grass is just a waste of space and resources. Sure, it's pretty, but when so many people are struggling financially, struggling to eat right, struggling with poor health, and struggling with soaring costs at the pump and the grocery store, why not put that space to better use and grow whatever you can on the space you have available? A packet of seeds costs a couple bucks and can easily provide more than enough filling, healthy produce for a family that otherwise might not be able to buy fresh produce at a store. And if you're into the local food movement or want to buy organic foods but can't afford them, it doesn't get more local (or organic) than planting your own seeds at home.


Seedlings and potted plants in my side-yard veggie garden
 
Granted, vegetable gardens don't have to be in the front yard. Some people have adequate growing conditions in their backyard. And if I did, my garden would probably end up in my backyard, too. But there's also something I like about my front-yard garden. Aside from connecting me with my neighbors more (I see and talk to all of them while working in my front-yard garden—something that wouldn't happen if I was in the backyard), I feel like it serves as a reminder and example to others that YOU can do this, too. That it's totally normal. That where our food comes from matters.
 
Why should gardening be so secluded or out of the public eye? Who says flowers and shrubs are OK in my planting beds but kale and basil aren't? Who should have the right to determine what is aesthetically pleasing or "suitable" to plant and what isn't if not the homeowners themselves? Growing food has nothing to do with class or socioeconomic status; gardening transcends race, class, education level and age. It certainly isn't bringing down my property values or those of my neighbors. It's something almost anyone can do and benefit from—so why not celebrate (rather than punish) it?
 
What do you think? Would front-yard veggie gardens bother you if they were in your neighborhood? Why or why not?

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Comments

JULIENSMITH 4/11/2018
I loved in a large city with small lots & when front yard gardens started trending, I was all for it. However after a few years many gardeners quit upkeep & they became eye sores. I am still in favor though. Report
LEAHLED 2/19/2018
I'm a liberal and support converting our lawns into vegetable/edible gardens. Grass uses up a lot of water and has a shallow root system leading to more erosion.
During WWII it was even considered patriotic to grow food in your front yard. Look up the history of Victory Gardens and you'll see it was even encouraged by our government.
As long as it is also decorative I don't think anyone should complain. The people who are bothered by a nice garden are those who like to force their will onto others or are intolerant of any differences. That kind of behavior can lead to some ugly places.
Just remember to put up your tools and mulch! Report
MARSHASHADOW 2/19/2018
This liberal has been gardening for years. Edible landscape, community gardening, container gardening, etc. As long as it's taken care of and doesn't become a weed patch or home for powdery mildew and garden pests, I have no problem with it. Report
MACDOOGAL1059 1/29/2018
The only people that I can think of, who would be offended by a garden, wherever it was placed would be liberals. For some reason, anyone trying to be self-sufficient is repugnant to them. Report
WALKZWDOGZ 1/18/2018
Rosalind Creasy had lovely solutions to a front yard veggie garden with her edible landscaping books years ago. Personally, I'm all for someone trying to grow healthy food anywhere. Report
FITGIGI0102 1/17/2018
A well-kept garden, as long as it obeys local statutes and HOA rules, shouldn't be offensive to anyone. Report
HICIM705 1/17/2018
Seriously? Why can't people just do what they want without someone complaining about it. Geez, if they aren't planting their garden in their neighbor's yard, then the neighbors should shut up ~ maybe they could even learn a thing or two. What a GREAT use of space that is normally just 'dead space' anyway!

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DAWNFIRE72 1/17/2018
I would not be offended by a garden in someone's front yard. It may not be "conventional" placement but if the front yard offers better growing conditions, is larger/more convenient for the homeowner I say go for it. I am a horrible gardener and admire those that can keep plants alive. Report
ZUNKLES 1/17/2018
Yeah, as someone else pointed out, if you have to get so involved and worried about vegetables being grown in someone else's front yard, you have bigger problems that need to be worked on. Report
LUCYICANNON 1/17/2018
I love the look of a garden no matter where it is! Back in the day everyone grew a garden somewhere on their property. I miss those good old days. You could usually buy produce from one of them for little to nothing. Report
LRJUSTUS1 1/17/2018
Being offended is subjective..if a front yard garden offends you, chances are you've got bigger problems than being offended by that & should probably work on your other issues.. Report
ENCHANTEDALANA 1/17/2018
Unbelievable that a neighbour who probably never spoke to them before they put in their veg garden would get the authorities involved in something so petty. I could understand if things were out of control and encroaching, but even if they were trying to sell their property, I can not see how 'the neighbour's veg garden is affecting my property value'. I'm just doubly glad I'm out in the boonies and noone really cares what you do - again, unless you're selling. Report
LAWLI56 1/17/2018
We don't have such daft statutes in the UK. As far as I know you can grow what you like in your own garden except for invasive species such as Japanese knotweed or giant hogweed so long as it's not neglected and an eyesore. Most of our laws pertain to structural elements such as hedges, walls, ponds, etc. It's down to our local councils to deal with complaints and enforce these. My friend was an organic companion gardener who grew vegetables, herbs and flowers all in the same beds and she never had any complaints. Many of the flowers she grew also had edible parts such as calendula, borage and nastursium, all delicious and colourful in salads. Report
PHOENIX0612 6/1/2017
I'm appalled that people can be offended by vegetables. I understand that an unkempt garden can be unsightly, but so can a lawn. There are regulations in place to make people keep their lawns looking nice, so why not for gardens? I don't understand making someone get rid of a garden because people can see it. Like the author of this article noted, not all backyards have good conditions for growing edible plants (or the space). If someone wants to eat healthier and limit the cost by growing their own food, people should butt out as long as it's kept looking nice. We live in a society where people try to control every aspect of other people's lives, but it's not their place to do so. How about being supportive of others? It's much more rewarding and makes everyone's life better and easier. Report
CHAS6113 6/1/2017
This is why I'm glad I live in the country. Nobody cares about my garden. Though I did click on the link to look at theirs and it is a bit out of control. I don't know how I'd feel having to look at it everyday. Report
SPARKARINA 5/18/2017
By the way, the town in question was drummondville, which is quite far from Montreal. Most inner city neighborhoods allow vegetable gardens in the front yard, especially those in immigrant areas. It is really amazing what they grow on a postage stamp sized plot of land. I'm in awe everytime I come across these gardens. Report
SPARKARINA 5/18/2017
I love the idea of a front yard garden. Herbs look beautiful and really a nice plot of scarlet runner beans can be beautiful. Once I had a pumpkin vine that snaked across my front yard. Report
Some people today are too focused on what is pleasing to themselves. I live in a residential community and our policies do limit the size and height of the garden. Plus the garden must be well maintained, and not coated in chicken wire if in the main yard. the height restriction does exclude things like corn, but we can do tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuce with no issues. Though we do have some busybody neighbors who do not keep their gardens well kept and then try to point fingers when they are asked to "clean it up" or remove it. Report
They do not bother me so long as they are kept well. When I needed green filler in my front bed I planted kale and ate it as it got too big. I always have a rosemary bush out front too. Carrots are good filler between flowers too and of course my blueberry bushes. Report
PAULPARADIS
I have no problem with a veg garden in someone's front yard. I would assume because the garden is placed between the sidewalk and roadway it is on city property not the property of the home owner and that would be of concern to me. They appear to have their own area at the front of their home (front yard) that they could utilize as a garden. Report
TRAPPER2002
I think it is a great idea and can't understand people who complain I bet they are cookie cutter folks, poor things! Report
SQUEEDLE
As long as the garden is not an eyesore, what difference does it make? People complaining about a tidy, well kept garden are being unreasonable. I don't get the "it looks like a slum" complaint. Gardening is one of the most civilized, quiet and contemplative things one can do. This hardly describes slummy behavior. I've been through some slums. You don't see gardens there, and I doubt you'd want to eat food grown in one, so I find such a comment ridiculous. These sniffy, classist complainers need to calm down and look up the term "victory garden" for a little history lesson. I hope "sunnycaligirl" doesn't live near me. I might sneak some beans or tomato seeds into her potted plants. Report
Many years ago I lived in a city, and on my block was a house with the most beautiful front yard I have ever seen. Hemmed in by a short wrought iron scrollwork fence was a well arranged vegetable garden interspersed here and there with flowers. Walking by, I would always stop to admire the beautiful plants and note the progress of the ripening vegetables. Vegetable gardening doesn't have to be ugly, and banning front yard veggie gardening does not guarantee attractive front yards. I've seen countless traditional yards with grass and shrubs that were truly eyesores due to haphazard design or lack of maintenance. Report
Yes I find it just as offensive as people in apartments who string their laundry to dry on their front patio or porches. It makes it look like a slum doing that. This is NOT a farm or a charming town in Italy, it's in city limits. IF you don't have a back yard, try growing vegetables in pots if you must use them where most people are decorative. Report
TCLADY
I live in the country but until we retired lived in a busy subdivision down state, we all had nice yards but I was one who added veggie plants to both my front and back flowerbeds, each year taking more of the lawn area, and I wasn't the only one. I now live in the middle of 10 acres and have room for flowers, veggies and a small front yard "lawn". I'd still rather have the flowers and veggies then a well manicured lawn. Report
My daughter lives in an older neighborhood in St. Paul, MN where it seems they promote front yard gardening of all kinds. As we drive along the streets there are patches of flowers and grown cover on the boulevards, small fenced gardens in the front yards, and trellises all over with various climbing plants like beans, peas and raspberries. I've also seen this where my daughter lives in Roanoke, VA. It's not only beautiful, but it shows that people who live in these areas have a great relationship with their environment and believe in health and wellness. I am lucky to have a very large back yard and wouldn't plant in the front because we live on a busy highway with lots of pollutants going by every day. It's still a bit noisy in the back but we are sheltered, we have a nice large plot that gets about 70% sun daily, and I just love working in the garden once the weather is right! Report
Your local ordinances (and possible Homeowners Associations) determine what you can do on and with your property. If there are ordinances against gardens in your front yard, contact your local representative and work to change the ordinance. Living in community requires that we surrender some of our individual rights to live together in a more cohesive way. Otherwise it would be the Wild Wild West all over again! Some ordinances and laws are out of sync with current trends and needs and should be revisited. For example, our community recently rewrote an ordinance that had prohibited growing milkweed. Now community members can help build habitat for migrating butterflies in their gardens. Maybe this is something you can address at your next city or town council meeting. Affect change yet still be a good neighbor.



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People who complain about front yard gardens need to quit whining and find a hobby - like gardening!!!! Report
JUDYLU
We are blessed with a beautiful east-facing front lawn. I intend to start reconfiguring said lawn with a 'cottage-type' garden. It will have both flowers and veggies. I fully expect my neighbors to love it, because who doesn't love flowers? Report
I really don't see a problem! It's my property...it's mine to do with as I want.:) Report
In this day and age, people go from Zero to "Offended" in .2 seconds. Personally, I have no problem if a neighbor planted, maintained, and grew a successful garden in his/her front yard. The only time I might be a little bothered by it is if they did NOT maintain it and/or the garden drew pests and other vermin that could become a greater health issue. In which case, it might be a better tactic to work WITH one's neighbor rather than against him. Report
Personally I think it is a great idea. I actually wanted to do exactly what the first picture showed... in my parkway!!! So I researched it and here is the other side: Can't be in a parkway because it is city property... why not?

If any kid is walking on the sidewalk and eats say a tomato and are allergic (or get pesticide poisoning) you are liable (in your yard) or in a parkway city would be... they aren't willing to take that chance.

Also be careful what you grow... some are dangerous to animals (ie. sweet potato- the leaves) Report
I totally think front lawn gardens are a great idea!!! I live in an apartment, but that doesnt stop my from gardening! I have a decent sized patio that i container garden my veggies on in the summer, I get so many coments from my neighbors who I share produce with, about how vibrant and well kept my plants are! It's 29 degrees and snowing and still inside I have a veggie garden! I have a beautiful tomato plant I grew from seed, spinach, garlic, bell peppers, chilies and herbs! Report
I think it is a great idea. It is your yard and you pay property taxes you can plant anything you want. I heard awhile ago, somewhere people planted vegetables out in front of their property and people were able to avail themselves of fresh vegetables and fruit. HOA in my opinion are busy bodies and should not be. Sorry to those who like them. Report
I am much more offended by the neighbors who are offended than I could ever be by vegetables. We get ourselves so caught up in irrelevant, made-up priorities that we lose sight of real life. Food gardens are real life. "Lawns" are... what? Report
My yard, my business. They don't seem to bother those people whose yard looks like a pigsty. Report
Offended by someones garden?
These people need a job. Go out and voulnteer somewhere.
Not everyone has the money to buy organic food.
Some of us grow it ourselves.
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LGWISKEY
I think it is a wonderful idea and very pretty also. If it is your yard you should be able to do it. Report
No. Food not lawns! Report
And you live in a 'free' country! Report
I live in a condo and use flower boxes for my herbs and greens. I think front yard planting is fine - as long as it's your yard. That space between the sidewalk and the road usually belongs to the city, and they usually don't appreciate that. Sometimes they have a "public garden" space for people who want to grow foods without space. Another woman also mentioned pets, and I've seen people put up signs on their lawn asking people to respect the food they are growing. Report
LCERTUCHE
I grew pole beans on a wire trellis to shade my windows and sweet potato vines in my flower beds and had strangers knocking on my door wanting to know where they could get starts or asking what kind of plants they were. Report
I think it's a great idea. People that would have weedy gardens probably wouldn't have well kept yards either! Go for it! (I say all that when I live in the country on 2 1/2 acres and have a huge garden in the back yard that butts up to two other neighbors.)

It might be a problem in communities that have the grass between the sidewalk and road. In my son's community, that's the area to walk your dog. I would be concerned growing food where dogs would water it! Report
not at all I think i's good idea to grow veggies any where you can. Report
I'd rather see vegetables than dandelions and weeds. If people want to plant vegetables in their front yard, good for them! Report
The sort of people who would complain about vegetables being grown in a yard are baffling to me. What's so wrong with vegetables, and as the OP asked, who's to say what's more attractive - basil or boxwood, cucumbers or chrysanthemums?

It takes a special kind of arrogance and short-sightedness, not to mention a selfishness that is astounding, to say that growing food is unattractive. Report
No way! They don't offend me at all - we have two families growing beautiful veggies on our street, right in their front yards. I think it's a wonderful way to use what is otherwise wasted earth. Report
I live in a condo in Pte. Claire (suburb of Montreal) and miss my large garden in my former house I sold. I think this is a wonderful idea. Not only is it beautiful, but healthy as well. I cannot believe they will pass a law forbidding front gardens. Report
Wow they do have a beautiful garden! I personally don't see a problem with it as long as they keep it up and don't let it become so overgrown with weeds that it could be considered a blighted property. In our town we don't own a certain amount of our front lawn from the street in a few feet (I'm not sure of the correct lineage) but if that is the case they should not plant on that area because if there is to be any road work don't the town/county/state has the right to dig up that area. Just my 2 cents worth.
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