[permaculture] Edible Landscape Controversy Grows

Greg FarmerGreg at UrbanFarm.org
Sun Oct 9 21:12:09 EDT 2005


Does this mean that this is not an appropriate post for this list? 
Please tell me if it is so I don't do it again.



>Greg wrote:
>>  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.
>>  Greg
>>  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
>>  http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PhxPermaculture/
>>  Amy J. Belanger
>>  602-616-9744
>Here is the text of these news articles:
>Gilbert News
>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
>and fruits.
>View garden slideshow.
>Related Links
>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,
>he claims.
>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
>current ordinance.
>"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
>healthy living.
>"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
>Cary Aspinwall
>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
>the ground.
>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 says.
>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
>with pesticides."
>permaculture mailing list
>permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org


***ATTENTION***  Please note my new email address.  FarmerGreg at UrbanFarm.org

The Urban Farm
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Greg Peterson

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