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Digging in: Man is challenging Blue Springs’ ban on front yard vegetable gardens

blue springs garden.jpg
Posted at 8:16 AM, Oct 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-11 09:16:48-04

BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. — One man is fighting back against the city of Blue Springs, Missouri. A city ordinance says people can’t grow vegetables in their front yards. The code has been on the books more than 20 years, but the city issued its first violation just this summer.

Todd Mengel received the violation. Now, he’s sharing an online petition asking the city to change the ordinance so other gardeners don’t get the same surprise as him.

“Disbelief, a bit of anger hit and a pit of illness in my stomach because I love my garden,” Mengel described getting the violation letter in late August. “So the fact that I thought I was going to lose it is not a happy thing for me.”

Mengel said his backyard doesn’t get enough sun for his vegetables to grow. And since he lives in a townhouse, he doesn’t have a side yard to relocate the raised garden. But he doesn’t think he should have to move it at all.

“How in the world does that hurt anybody, that I had vegetables growing?” he asked.

The city said the ordinance banning street-side vegetable gardens exists for aesthetic purposes. Mengel can grow flowers but has until Oct. 15 to get rid of the vegetables. If he doesn’t, the city will hire someone to remove them for him and bill him the cost.

“This is a fight for other people in the city of Blue Springs to be able to grow organic fruits and vegetables in their front yard, if that's the only place they get sun too,” Mengel said.

The mayor of Blue Springs said he doesn’t anticipate reviewing the ordinance anytime soon.

In Florida, one couple in a similar situation took their fight all the way to the state capital and this year the governor signed a new law allowing people to have gardens in their front yards all over Florida.

Mengel said he’s not afraid to take his fight to Jefferson City.

The municipal code in Independence, Missouri, and Overland Park, Kansas, allows front yard vegetable gardens. Kansas City, Missouri, allows vegetables, but not rows of tall crops in the front yard.