Newton, Massachusettes. USA

This is actually a good news story about seemingly reasonable bylaw officials.Screen shot 2013-02-16 at 2.47.45 PM  Newton is a suburban community 7 miles west of downtown Boston.  In 2012, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino gave away 2012 tomato plants to resident to encourage urban agriculture.  In 2011, as part of its “Boston Blooms” program, the city planted 5000 additional flowers and added flower beds to front yards of Boston Housing properties.

Screen shot 2013-02-16 at 2.21.21 PMEli Katzoff was caring for his parent’s home while they were away for an extended period.  He wanted to grow a crop to share with the neighbours and local food bank, but didn’t want to damage his father’s garden so he built a13 ft tall A-frame in the front yard to support 35 hanging buckets of tomato plants.

City officials place the hanging garden in the category of a prohibited “accessory structure” which includes swing sets, swimming pools, and sheds and ordered it removed.  On a positive note, officials did try to work with Katzoff, even offering him space for his structure in a Buildings Department parking lot.  Katzoff declined that offer but accepted instead space at the Andover Newton Theological Center.

“I think the fact that Andover Newton was willing and eager to help us out is a testament to their school that proves not all institutions will put up road blocks, but some will embrace and encourage innovative ways of taking back food production for community and humanitarian benefit,” – Eli Katzoff

Eli has also started his own business selling and ‘renting’ plants…that is, harvesting the vegetables from plants under his care under exclusive contract to renters…an innovative form of urban agriculture.

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