I would like to bring attention to a big issue that I am finding more and more common lately: the government’s attack on small farms (and even gardens). We are hearing a lot about people in urban and suburban areas with gardens in their front lawns, being forced to “landscape” their property instead of growing food. It starts with neighbors complaining that the gardens don’t fit in with the subdivision complex, or that the raised beds are an eye sore. Then the government gets involved and it becomes the homeowners fight for their rights to grow vegetables instead of maintaining a well-manicured green lawn. I am having a hard time understanding this whole issue. What ever happened to “victory gardens”? I like having my own garden and I recently expanded it into my front yard because I have better sun and I am so sick of mowing! I am just waiting to see how long it takes for one of my neighbors to chirp in…
Here are some examples of people in urban areas that are fighting to keep their gardens. I got these pictures off of a Facebook page called Grow Food Not Lawns. Why is this illegal?:
Now something that is even more baffling that the urban issues with gardens, is the rural landowners fighting for their rights to farm. Recently in Marquette, there has been multiple court cases of the government trying to shut down small, sustainable farms. The first case that grabbed my attention was with Bakers Green Acres located in Marion, Michigan. Marion is in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan but the court case was assigned to Marquette County. Bakers Green Acres is a family farm that processes chemical-free garden produce, dairy, eggs and meat. They are in a battle with the Michigan DNR because of their hogs. Their rare Mangalitsa hogs are defined as an invasive swine by the DNR because of their physical features (basically, just long hair). It is a complicated case to explain, but check out the video below. They also have a bunch of videos on their website.
On Mark Baker’s blog, on the farm’s website, he sums up my feeling on this case pretty well: ” government feeds on its own perceived power and will continue to try to regulate small farms out of existence and consolidate our food system into the hands of a few.” The government is really messing up our food system.
Another case in Marquette County that also infringes on our rights to farm, is with Shady Grove Farm in Gwinn. This case is going to court next week, November 20th. It is a little different that the issue Bakers Green Acres because it deals with zoning issues and not “illegal feral swine”. The Buchler Family has a sustainable farm on a beautiful lake in Gwinn, Michigan where they raise a flock of chickens, 8 sheep and grow food. They sell their “Grateful Eggs” at our Marquette co-op and they are grate! Randy Buchler helped start the Gwinn Farmer’s Market and recently started a local food buying club. His wife Libby also makes felted wool products from her sheep, that she sells at our artist co-op in town. I haven’t had the chance to meet them yet, or see their farm, but I have connected with them on Facebook and they seem like an overall wonderful family. Their fight for the right to farm began with their neighbors complaining that their animals were “polluting the land”. I can’t help but laugh at this. Now they are in a full on battle against Forsyth Township to keep their farm. Check out their video below.
Want to help these farms out? Spread the word and continue to fight for your right to farm! I hope that the awful battles that these people are going through brings attention to this very important issue. Be connected with your farmers and know where your food comes from.