the Organic Review: USDA Says Little Girl’s Garden Must Be Removed

By on August 26, 2013
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by Ali Papademetriou

Since May 13, Rosie, a 4-year-old resident of South Dakota, started a vegetable garden in order to provide healthy sustainability for herself and her mother. Her mother is a disabled, single parent who lives and supports small family on a fixed income of $628 per month.

Rosie’s garden is a way to deliver nutritious foods that her mother might not be able to always afford. Her vegetables are growing just right outside of the backdoor of their subsidized housing unit but now the US Department of Agriculture’s Development Agency is demanding that her garden be removed this week.

As The Healthy Home Economist reported, the property management company of their housing unit is saying that the garden isn’t in accordance with the USDA’s Rural Development Agency’s stipulation, which disallows residents to maintain any sort of structure on top of landscaped areas.

While this situation may seem unethical, this isn’t the first time that something like this has happened. Last November, Orlando resident, Jason Helvingston was prodded by local law enforcement to remove his vegetable garden from his front yard or else face charges for violating city code.

Helvingston was growing kale, radishes and wax beans in his 25 feet by 25 feet garden. As TSW reported, he told WKMG Local 6 news, “I said, ‘you’ll take my house before you take my vegetable garden. There’s nothing wrong here, there’s nothing poisonous here. This is a sustainable plot of land’.” The difference between Rosie’s and Jason’s run-ins with the law is that Rosie’s property is owned by the State but Helvingston’s is private property – leaving the situation even stickier for the Florida man.

This is another example of the government telling us what we can do with our own property – that should never happen,” explained Helvingston. He began collecting supportive signatures and his appearance on local news caught the attention of freedom activists on a nation-wide scale, resulting in a massive influx of emails being sent to the city of Orlando.

Helvingston was ultimately able to continue growing his garden and the city even ended its pursuance of convicting him.

It should come as no surprise, though, that the government would scold citizens for cultivating something as supportable as a vegetable garden. Other common activities such as children setting up lemonade stands are something that law enforcement attempts and succeeds at shutting down as well.

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15 Comments

  1. Rusty-Anne Goodworth

    August 26, 2013 at 6:01 am

    I think its disgraceful that governments think they have this much power! They have to remember, that we, as a people vote for them. In Australia, I have a small vege garden & I have the landlords permission to do so, actually, he encourages it!!!!! I WILL NOT bow down to bullies, I don’t care what ‘hat’ they wear!. Um so sorry for that little family, & everyone else who is in the same boat! Governments! When you’re perfect, then, you might gave the right to judge, otherwise, you’re fired!

  2. Amy

    August 26, 2013 at 11:39 am

    This is absurd!!!! This little girl is trying to allievate some burden on her family. At the age of 4!!! Back of government!!

  3. Linda T

    August 26, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    While big ‘Ag’ is slowly poisoning us and our environment, we are not free to raise our own food, like humans have been doing since time began! Who the HELL are the petit functionaires to tell us what we can and cannot grow and eat!

  4. andres

    August 26, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    I would file a lawsuit against the DOA and tell the judge it violates my inalienable right to pursue happiness!

    • Lillian

      August 26, 2013 at 6:40 pm

      Andres…I like the way you think. Let’s hope these folks do that and that a lawyer will take this on pro-bono.

  5. trueblueliberty

    August 26, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    i think she should take it down too!! but only because she is 4 and thats and awesome garden and i am jealous!! lol!!

  6. miloui

    August 26, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    Very badly written article Ali Papademetriou. What is the name of the property management company, they are the one’s who should be rebuked. Of course the USDA sucks but the management does not have to comply.

  7. Ryan

    August 26, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    What do I do to try to help? What city or county do I e-mail?

    • Kari

      August 26, 2013 at 7:56 pm

      elsie.meeks@sd.usda.gov,
      kevin.strickler@sd.usda.gov,
      trace.davids@sd.usda.gov

      the USDA is cited because this is a subsidized housing development…another note…almost al food shelves ad economic services offices are promoting nutrition and gardening to young children..so why is fed subsidized housing saying no to a program that Michelle Obama herself is saying to kids..get out and DO this???

  8. Daisy

    August 26, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    If the problem is that structures can not be built on govt land, I understand this…the solution is to remove the raised bed sides and let the dirt/bed support itself.

    • Daa Asa

      August 27, 2013 at 5:02 am

      Good idea! Raise the bed and grow!!

  9. Chris

    August 26, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    That’s just absurd! We need to get Rosie onto Ellen’s show and get a worldwide movement going to back all these people that are trying to eat non-toxic, healthy, sustainable foods. Rosie can be the poster girl!

  10. Peggy Blanchard

    August 26, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    The management/government should applaud and encourage this child–she is actually -saving- them money. She’s also pursuing a healthy and responsible lifestyle, which is more than can be said for many adults. Give the girl an award, not a hassle!

  11. Doozy Donovan

    August 27, 2013 at 10:15 am

    To My American Friends : YOUR GOVERNMENT IS WORKING AGAINST YOU.
    watch your back.
    YOUR GOVERNMENT HATES YOU.
    TELL YOUR FRIENDS

  12. Sovereign John

    September 2, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    Isn’t it odd that Michelle Obama gets to put a garden on public land at the White House yet a four year old girl is harassed? Maybe this family needs to sue the US Department of Agriculture’s Development Agency. It seems that there is special treatment given to Michelle Obama. Sounds like a great class action suit as others are denied the same gardening rights given to Michelle Obama gardening on public owned land. btw, what is POTUS Obama doing putting up his mother-in-law in the White House. The White House isn’t in the projects. The White House is for the POTUS, his wife and his children, not his cousins, his uncles, his aunts, his grandmother…

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