[permaculture] Edible Landscape Controversy Grows
Lawrence F. London, Jr.
lfl at intrex.net
Sun Oct 9 20:11:42 EDT 2005
> Hey all,
> I just wanted to let you know there is a controversy growing in
> GIlbert that might be of interest to you. Our friend Amy Belanger
> has graciously put together this document. If you feel moved write a
> letter or make a phone call. Lets see how we can turn this into a
> learning moment for all involved.
> If you want to be a true activist, watch the agenda of the Town
> Council meetings online and if the ordinance change appears on the
> agenda, show up prepared to comment. Be aware that, in order to
> comment at the public hearing in Gilbert, you must fill out a comment
> form indicating the item number on which you wish to be heard. The
> comment form will be available at the hearing. The Town Council
> agendas (with item numbers) can be viewed at the following url:
> To follow this issue, sign up for the permaculture listserve
> Amy J. Belanger
Here is the text of these news articles:
Daniel Lee Thompson of Gilbert sits in front of his parents’ house,
where he has made the front yard into a vegetable garden. Some neighbors
worry that the foliage will affect their homes’ values.
Toru Kawana Tribune
Gilbert’s Garden of Eatin’ triggers dispute
By Beth Lucas, Tribune
September 21, 2005
Daniel Lee Thompson’s Thanksgiving corn is preparing to ripen — in his
front yard. Underneath, lettuce for his family’s salad grows. The yard
is filled with hills and creekbeds, and a variety of organic vegetables
View garden slideshow.
But what the Gilbert resident considers edible landscape has neighbors
concerned about real estate values and appearance, and that has captured
the attention of Town Councilman Dave Crozier.
Crozier wants to get rid of Thompson’s garden, which he says stands out
in an otherwise well-kept neighborhood.
He asked the town’s attorneys for an opinion on whether an old ordinance
that allowed Thompson to grow his plants at will applies to a suburban
residence. The ordinance’s intent was to allow farmers to plant crops,
If the attorney’s opinion doesn’t allow the town to rid the yard of what
he considers overgrowth, Crozier said he will push for change to the
"You’ve got to draw a line between unkempt decorative landscaping versus
somebody legitimately trying to grow a farm in their front yard,"
Crozier said. "The guy is growing what appears to be a science
experiment in his front yard. When you first pull up to it, it’s just
like a jungle gone wild."
The issue came to light after a neighbor, Sandra Terry, wrote to the
town, threatening to move away. She declined to comment on the issue.
Senior code compliance officer Steve Wallace said he receives numerous
complaints about the property on West Rawhide Avenue southeast of Elliot
and Cooper roads, and recently asked Thompson to pull weeds that had
grown taller than allowed by ordinance. However, based on how the town
now interprets its ordinance, there have been no other violations, he said.
The home is not part of a homeowner’s association.
Thompson is unflinching in his determination to grow what he said he
plans to document in an independent film as an example of selfsufficient
"Why they want to deprive themselves and not accept the bounty of God is
beyond me," Thompson said. "They would allow the poisoning and death of
everything in my garden — which would lead to the death of my parents."
He said he first began the garden three years ago to improve his
parents’ health by providing more oxygen and cooler temperatures, as
well as the fresh food. His mother and step-father are owners of the home.
Thompson’s mother, Ann Carlisle, said the healthy food, along with
supplements allows her at the age of 80 to avoid prescription drugs. She
said growing fruits, vegetables and flowers should be more accepted and
even appreciated in such a dry climate.
"People are too busy being too busy being too busy," she said. "It’s
crazy. They’d rather be watching sports on TV. How many kids even know
how grass grows?"
Thompson has prepared a letter, after his last visit from a code
enforcer, that he plans to send to Gilbert Mayor Steve Berman, Sen. John
McCain, RAriz., and Gov. Janet Napolitano, asking that his yard be
saved, and urging more planting statewide to restore water resources and
oxygen in the state. He invited them to view his home.
"Come back in three weeks. You’re going to be walking through a jungle,"
Thompson said Monday as he watered and played music for his backyard.
Contact Beth Lucas by email, or phone (480) 898-6373
Homegrown garden leaves neighbors cold
The Arizona Republic
Oct. 5, 2005 12:00 AM
Among the xeriscape, golf greens, patios and swimming pools of Gilbert,
Daniel Lee Thompson has created his own little ecosystem.
Thompson's front yard is shaded by massive leaves of romaine lettuce,
cornstalks, Swiss chard and towering turnip greens.
He will chomp on a turnip blossom as he shows the marigolds and sweet
William blossoms he plants among the veggies to attract the right kinds
of insects, the ones to eat the bad bugs. No pesticides are used in this
"This is my breakfast," he said, winking as he pulls more greens from
Thompson and the owners of the house at 602 W. Rawhide Ave. in Gilbert,
his mother and stepfather, Ann and Richard Carlisle, say they are proud
and enthusiastic about their homegrown organic produce. They say it's
the key to their health and longevity, the reason they don't need any
Some of their neighbors are less-than-thrilled, however, and have
complained to Gilbert officials. One Town Council member, Dave Crozier,
asked the town attorney to rule whether Thompson's garden is a code
violation. If that fails, Crozier has talked about changing the
ordinance that allows it.
"The question always comes down to where do you draw the line?" Crozier
said. "This is over the line. I don't blame (the neighbor) for
complaining - I would have, too."
The home is in Madera Parc, one of Gilbert's rare neighborhoods without
a homeowners association governing what the family can plant in its own
As long as the weeds are trimmed, the town can't tell Thompson to yank
the Crenshaw melons from his front yard because the neighbors think it
looks untidy, code compliance officers say.
"We get complaints from time to time," said Steve Wallace, Gilbert's
senior code compliance officer. "It's a residential zoned area, and in
those areas folks are allowed to grow crops for themselves."
Some who drive by have complained that the front yard looks like a
jungle. They should see the back yard. It's a maze of kumquats,
grapevines, carrots, herbs and peach trees.
It's all part of a theory to which Thompson, 57, subscribes: Man is
responsible for the current drought, fire, flood cycle that has hit the
United States. Arizona was all lush vegetation and forests at one time,
He is an advocate of permaculture and sustainable farming methods,
trying to restore the environment that has been destroyed by man.
"For me, it's the whole idea of knowing the food is safe, healthy and
here for my family to eat," he said.
His 80-year-old mother doesn't have the shelf full of medications that
many of her peers have to take.
"It all boils down to nutrition," Carlisle said. "What you're buying in
the grocery store has so little nutrition, and it's all contaminated
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