Karl Tricamo and Nikki Brandt welcomed their first child in 2012. Mr Tricamo had recently been laid off from his job so decided to cut expenses and put his time and land to productive use by growing food. The backyard was heavily shaded by trees on neighbouring properties, leaving only the front yard as a possible location. Obtaining the support of his landlord, Jesse Brandt, Tricamo went ahead with his gardening plans.
Karl Tricamo did everything right. He investigated city ordinances before planning and planting his front yard vegetable garden; finding that bylaws actually encourage community and urban agriculture gardening. Nevertheless, once he implemented his plans, he began receiving notices from bylaw officers, outraged that he was not conforming to their expectations of proper private property use. “just because something is unorthodox, and potentially controversial, that does not make it illegal.“- Karl Tricamo
“As a property owner, my rights are protected by the Constitution. There is nothing even remotely harmful about having a garden next to your home, so why should the city be able to ban it?” – Jesse Brandt
Contribute to the Tricamo’s legal defence via paypal. Excess donations will be given to the Freedom Centre of Missouri which is helping with their defence. Update: this skirmish has apparently been won for now.
A more complete timeline than offered below can be found the Tricamo’s blogsite.
March 6, 2012: Mr Tricamo began tiling grass under.
March 29, 2012: notice that freshly tilled yard must be covered in straw and replanted with grass seed…despite that no city ordinances require grass.
Sec. 7-134. -Grounds: “Every yard, court, vent, passageway, driveway, sidewalk, fence and other portion of the lot on which the residential building stands shall be free of debris, weeds and other safety hazards, graded and drained so as to prevent the accumulation of stagnant water on any such surface. Driveways and sidewalks shall be maintained in good repair. Gravel from gravel driveways must be retained in the driveway and kept clean of sidewalks and streets.”
April 2012: Demand letter that vegetables be removed as the property was not zoned for “agricultural use”…despite ordinances allowing such use.
April 23, 2012–not mailed until June 6, 2012: Violation Notice under ordinance 7-133 which regulates structural elements such as foundations, exterior surfaces, windows etc…not yards; citing “failure to meet the minimum standards of the City of Ferguson exterior appearance code”.
July 6, 2012: Received letter that was sent to all neighbors within 185 feet of property. It stated the Tricamo’s desire to “plant the entire front yard of the property in tall crops”. According to Mr Tricamo’s blog, one third of the front yard is grass, and “tall crops” take up less than ten percent of the garden. The city’s letter also stated that the property was not zoned for agriculture, which it apparently is, but the property is too small to be considered an agricultural enterprise under the definitions.
July 23, 2012: The Freedom Center of Missouri struck a blow for property rights, persuading the Board of Adjustment for the city of Ferguson, Missouri, to overturn the city’s determination that residents must get the City’s permission before cultivating gardens in their yards; agreeing with arguments that residents are free to grow vegetables in their yards as long as they are not violating a specific ordinance or endangering the public health or safety.
City officials have apparently tried a number of tactics to discourage this garden.
“This situation illustrates a common practice among some city officials – when all else fails in their attempt to control citizens’ behavior, they sometimes just make stuff up.” www.mofreedom.org