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Adam Guerrero, Compassion Farm, Urban Farming

I’d bet a big old stucco or brick house covered with clinging vines wouldn’t cause any problems in Memphis or Lantzville UNLESS THEY WERE GRAPE VINES! Someone might notice you were growing contraband food in your yard!

My July 11 post on Your Small Kitchen Garden expressed dismay and annoyance at the way people in Oak Park, Michigan were treating Julie Bass for growing vegetables in her front yard. Poor Julie was just one in a line of abused citizens drawing grief for growing their own food. This must stop!

Adam Guerrero in Memphis

Math teacher Adam Guerrero in Memphis, Tennessee has been told to remove his home kitchen garden from his yard. He tutors several children in all things gardening and has support of many neighbors. But apparently, one of his neighbors deems his garden a public nuisance, and that’s all the city needs take action.

Compassion Farm in Lantzville, British Columbia, Canada

No doubt both Memphis and Lantzville are OK with homeowners who have tall shade trees in their yards. But what if, one day, your gorgeous shade tree drops some of these terrors on your lawn? Yes, it’s food! Black walnut trees, hickory trees, pecan trees, apple trees, pear trees, even crabapple trees all represent the dreaded public nuisance: a food source growing in your yard.

This one is a bit more complicated than Adam’s and Julie’s situations. Apparently, Compassion Farm is a fairly large property on which Dirk Becker and Nicole Shaw grow produce to sell. At least one neighbor has hassled Compassion Farm for some time, and the city government is insisting that the farm cease operations.

At the same time, the city council is working to rewrite code to allow urban farming—though it’s not clear how that’s developing or how it might affect Compassion Farm. Apparently, the committee working on these code changes includes people known to oppose the existence of Compassion Farm.

Preference for Poison

A section of Memphis’s code provides for the city to remove personal property: …if such personal property is dangerous to the public health, safety, or welfare; or creates an unsightly condition… …tending to reduce the value…of the property. This seems to be the basis for rationale to act against Adam Guerrero.

Do you see the craziness? Growing grass in a yard in Memphis is a code violation but the government doesn’t even know it! Homeowners treat lawns with toxic chemicals to make them grow and to kill insects and funguses. Then they run lawnmowers and weed whackers that spew noise and air pollution. Poisoning the soil and groundwater and spewing carbon monoxide and noise into the air is dangerous to public health, safety, and welfare. Every lawn-conformist in Memphis should receive a cease-and-desist order.

If the electrical grid goes down or our petroleum supply drops abruptly and hampers transportation, the city of Memphis can expect to run out of food in three days. You know who I want as my neighbor in the event such a catastrophe occurs? I want the person who has a yard like this one! This person has food even when the rest of the city has none! How can any human think that having a lawn is a better option than having a kitchen garden? Of course, all the neighbors will suddenly support urban farming when it’s their only source of food.

Despite the obvious code violations, the city thinks citizens should toil for an hour or more each week growing gorgeous green grass so they can cut it down and THROW IT AWAY! If the city required people to grow something useful like food, they’d be laughing stocks. The absurdity is mind-boggling.

Save Some Kitchen Gardens

Please help these and all kitchen gardeners save their yards; help them gain the right to use their yards in socially-responsible ways. I’ve included links below to petitions you can sign, and links to other web sites with more information about Adam Guerrero and Compassion Farm. Some of the information in this post came from those web sites.



Adam Guerrero petition:

Where I first read about Adam Guerrero: Mister Brown Thumb

Adam Guerrero article: Tree Hugger

Compassion Farm petition:

Compassion Farm web site: Ways to help


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3 Responses to “Adam Guerrero, Compassion Farm, Urban Farming”

  • I wish I was a crazy, eccentric billionaire instead of a crazy, eccentric poor so I could build a town where people could grow whatever they wanted, however they wanted. Free of the nanny state and busybodies who live next door and have to have a say in what their neighbor is growing and how they’re doing it wrong. Thanks for the h/t in the Adam Guerrero story. Hopefully the Memphis and BC story have positive outcomes.

  • Daniel Gasteiger:

    mrbrownthumb: Thanks for stopping by… and for bringing the Memphis story to light. I’m lucky to live in a community where even the most unattractive plantings–back yard, side yard, or front yard–go uncontested by the municipality. I’m sure there are annoyed neighbors, but I’ve never heard of a yard design coming under attack. My yard is gradually becoming one that would cause great trouble in Memphis.

  • Karen:

    These stories are shocking, the officials’ behavior (at the prompting of those friendly neighbors, to be sure) truly ludicrous. I feel so lucky to live in Berlin, Germany, where tiny gardens and community gardens like the Prinzessinnengärten ( are all over the city — and Germany knows no shortage of bureaucrats and busybodies! I hope that someday the urban gardening trend will transcend its trend status and become truly embedded in the American culture.

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