N., a Technical Assistant in Engineering and Construction for the Town of Oakville, paid me a visit today. He told me that there had been a complaint about our front yard garden boxes.
He indicated that they were located on town property (by about 2 feet). He agreed that planting on the boulevard is permitted in Oakville but thought that the boxes themselves presented a problem. When I wondered why, he suggested that if someone walking by was to fall onto them and hurt themselves, the town (and we) could be liable. He did not know who made the complaint.
I thanked him for his visit and let him know that I would not be moving my gardens. They were planted carefully and thoughtfully and (in my opinion) safely. If the town would like to pursue the matter, I will be glad to talk about it further. I have no idea what will happen next. This, however, seems like a good time to outline the reasons why I have undertaken this project (also see the tab at the top of the page, “Here’s what I’m reading”).
1. Economic: I am working hard to feed my family, and to feed them healthy food. This is increasingly difficult as prices rise and my four children grow into teenagers. For two $3 packets of seeds I can grow enough zucchini and tomatoes to keep my household in vegetarian pasta sauce all winter (we ate the last of the 2010 zucchini last night for supper).
2. Environmental: I am trying to be earth-friendly. Grass usually sucks up treated tap water and mowers create pollution, nevermind the chemicals that wash down the storm sewers. Our yard has a huge, sunny triangle of grass that is now cabable of creating food for people and insects and a habitiat for birds. My children are learning about collecting rain water, composting, and natural pest control.
3. Spiritual: I am creating a public display of beauty and food that can feed both body and soul. My yard has the potential to teach local children how food grows and to enrich our community with a pleasing display of plants and flowers. Because it is on the front lawn, it invites conversation among neighbours and can build greater community. My faith tradition urges me to share, which is exactly what I tend to do with at least some of the produce–it will go to a local weekly summer food program hosted by my congregation.
I am not sure what the town’s response will be. After N. left, I filled up my watering can and set to making sure my carrots, spinach and beets were nice and damp. I noticed the peas have just (barely) begun to sprout! I felt a little like a dog claiming my territory.