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