WITH sun rays beaming, it may seem like the perfect time to start your own backyard garden.
Thanks to six laws, however, it might be worth checking in with your local authorities to make sure you legally can.
Attorneys explain that being able to grow your own food can vary from state to stateCredit: Getty
S.Z. Cohn, Esq, a partner of Cohn Legal in New York, explained that being able to grow your own food may differ depending on the state you’re in.
“The most important place to start is with the recognition that by and large, one will find different laws depending upon which State (and local municipality) one lives in,” he said.
“Indeed, while the sale of food (at least, in a meaningful amount) is governed on the Federal level by the FDA, the mere growing of food and certainly for one’s consumption is far more localized,” he explained.
Dmitriy Kondratiev, an international law attorney, explained that while usually, you don’t need to get permission to grow food in your garden, there may be exceptions.
Currently, only Illinois and Florida have the “Right to Garden” laws in their books, followed by Maine which recently updated its constitution with a “Right to Food” amendment.
A Michigan woman, Julie Bass, was cited with a civil misdemeanor for not planting “grass, shrubs, or other suitable live plant material” in the spring of 2011.
She had installed a few raised beds in the front yard of her suburban property.
Bass quickly learned that her gardening efforts, with the intention to teach her kids about growing their own food, had broken the law.
Bass’ experience is not unique — countless individuals have been forced to have their gardens removed.
Many were confused by the confusing arguments for the legislation.
Some suggested that greenhouses reduce property values, raised beds do not conform to the aesthetics of a well-tended yard, and vegetables growing in the ground are unsightly, among others.
Ari Bargil, an attorney with the Institute for Justice who has represented several gardeners, said that such criticisms tend to be rooted in discrimination.
“These are classist restrictions that are designed to make neighborhoods look a certain way,” he said.
However, the attorney also noted the headway that’s being made in terms of reform.
“That’s hard-won legislation, said Bargil, who was involved in both cases in Illinois and Florida. “Getting reforms like this passed is very, very difficult.”
Legislation in Illinois and Florida have made it legal to grow your own gardensCredit: Getty