California Passes Neighborhood Food Act

Published on September 30th, 2014 | by

chard-garden

As surprising as it may seem, you actually don’t have the right to grow your own fruits and vegetables on your own private property. In some states- Florida, namely- people have been fined thousands of dollars for planting vegetable gardens and even gone to prison for trying to live off the grid. Last week, though, the state of California took a stand against the tyranny of the suburban lawn by passing the Neighborhood Food Act.

That’s huge.

The Neighborhood Food Act, AB 2561, is just one of several sustainable foods bills signed into law by California Gov. Jerry Brown last week. Designed to removes barriers to growing food for personal consumption, the bill ensures that people have the right to grow food for themselves regardless of their housing status, and includes provisions that would completely overturn local zoning ordinances that prohibit growing food in front yards, back yards, or otherwise vacant lots (assuming they’re owned by the grower) in “residential” areas and other types of zones. Furthermore, the Neighborhood Food Act guarantees tenants’ and members of homeowner’s associations’ rights to grow food for personal consumption by voiding contrary language in existing lease or homeowner’s associations agreements.

The news will, doubtless, be welcomed by hobbyist gardeners, homesteaders, and the prepper communities, alike- and serves to show how those movements are growing. Hopefully, a number of Californians will- despite the drought- find a way to grow healthy, nurturing produce that enhances their communities as it improves their food security. Now we just need to get the other 49 states on board with the grow-your-own philosophy of self-reliance … what could be more American than that?

 

California Gov. Jerry Brown


jerrybrown

Source | Images: SELC, via Shareable.

 

About the Author

I've been involved in motorsports and tuning since 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the Important Media network. You can find me on Twitter, Skype (jo.borras) or Google+.
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  • CATRYNA49

    After some of the hideous laws he has passed recently, it’s about time he’s did something right. Thank goodness for some kind of sense going on in that head. But, the very fact that a law would have to be enacted for something that the government, only a short while ago, actually demanded of everyone as their patriotic duty, is just short of nuts.

    • Sandra Bell

      You took the words right out of my mouth (fingers). Very well stated and true. I’ll never understand why Brown (Mr. environment) continues to allocate more and more land to the oil/gas industry for hydraulic fracturing, which is not only horrendously polluting and disturbing of the earth, but uses an unfathomable amount of water. It’s criminal. BTW, for his information, I have been growing fruits and vegetables in my yard (front and back) for decades. My yard, my right.

  • Your1Friend

    Great news. The Jerry I once knew.

    Everyone has the right to grow their own food on their own property. Everyone.

    • richard

      Every should have the right to own land in the first place!!Ban money and have an RBE!!!

  • Your1Friend

    Is it true that it is illegal in Florida (or parts of Florida) to grow your own food?

    Of course, Florida is a backward, conservative, and corrupt state, but to be forbidden to grow your own food sounds pretty repressive.

    Of course, Republicans (and not a few Democrats) are by nature repressive.

    • Evji108

      It is mostly the condo and neighborhood associations that don’t want messy vegetable gardens cluttering up the neighborhood landscaping.

      • Eric Smith

        And most of the condo and neighborhood associations are made up of retirees from the liberal Northeast who want to regulate the hell out of everything anyway, “because that is how we do it in Noo Yawk.”

        • Evji108

          You pretend that you don’t know that rich Republicans like their neighborhoods safe, clean and free of riff-raff, junked cars and weeds just like rich Democrats. All well to do newer neighborhoods all over the country have neighborhood association rules. Yours is a typical right wing tactic to just make up lies when the facts don’t suit them.

          • Peter Kosen

            And of course to counter what you see as a wrong in the other guy’s post, you need to make up your own lie about what he said.

          • Smokes

            And Florida has a MUCH HIGHER percentage of Homeowners Associations (HOA). Just so the haves (owners) can push around the have nots (renters). Disgusting.

          • Eric Smith

            You ever been to FL? Parts are like New York South, esp in the gated retirement communities. And of course, one expects such snobbish behavior among the supposedly snobbish Republicans, but the irony is especially delicious when it turns out that the Northeastern liberals who populate such communities, the ones touting brotherhood and equality and fairness, suddenly start passing all sorts of rules that in effect keep “riff-raff” (read: people of color who are poor) out of their HOAs and gated communities. #hypocrites

          • Eric Smith

            Sad part is, it’s true. Nothing like having outsiders come in, start ordering you around, and telling you they know what’s best for you. It’s how liberals do it!

        • Sandra Bell

          Why must you slap on a label (liberal) and (Northeast)? That’s what’s wrong with the world — so many people can’t see a situation clearly and just keep choosing a warlike, us and them mentality. Just so you know — wasteful, unenlightened snobbery is not a red or blue thing. It comes in both rich colors.

          • Eric Smith

            You ever been to FL? Parts are like New York South, esp in the gated retirement communities. And of course, one expects such snobbish behavior among the supposedly snobbish Republicans, but the irony is especially delicious when it turns out that the Northeastern liberals who populate such communities, the ones touting brotherhood and equality and fairness, suddenly start passing all sorts of rules that in effect keep “riff-raff” (read: people of color who are poor) out of their HOAs and gated communities. #hypocrites

          • Eric Smith

            Sad part is, it’s true. Nothing like having outsiders come in, start ordering you around, and telling you they know what’s best for you. It’s the Liberal Way!

        • Captain Scorpio

          You don’t seem to know much about the “liberal Northeast”. New York (haha, transliterate the accent — badly — that’s clever) = home of Pataki, Giuliani… hell, Bloomberg was only a nominal Democrat, he’d been a Republican all his life until he ran for mayor, and he governed like one. The state senate has been Republican dominated for most of last 80 years, except for two brief moments in 2009… even now, it’s run by a Democrat/Republican coalition.

          • Eric Smith

            I live in the bluest of the blue states, Massachusetts. This corrupt one party state of PC apparatchiks is your dream. Not mine.

          • Eric Smith

            Bloomberg grew up in Newton, MA and was a lifelong Dem until he came to NYC and switched to the GOP so he could get elected as mayor on the coattails of Giuliani after 9/11.

      • Sandra Bell

        Perhaps they will relax and get their priorities straight when food becomes scarce, and it will.

    • Alan Greenhome

      In my state,NM, implementing a law like that would start an armed insurrection, I think.

      • Todd Zimmerman

        More than just curious Alan, why do you think that would cause such a problem in your state? This is a sincere request, I do want to understand the mindset. I would appreciate it if you would take a few moments to share your thoughts on this a bit more deeply.

        • Alan Greenhome

          Many in New Mexico garden on residential lots. Both old established families and recent arrivals are advocates for the right to grow our own food. To take away such a basic human right would be completely unacceptable to many. Urban Agriculture is about to explode as water supplies become unpredictable and Urban Ag uses only 10% of the water of industrial ag. AParallelWorld.com/food-security

      • Smokes

        I’m curious as well Alan. Please help us understand your local issues.

    • John L. Battey

      How about a school that tells your child she isn’t allowed to share the fruits or vegetable from the home garden because they aren’t government inspected and then sends a note home saying that un-inspected produce should not be packed in your child’s lunch.

      • Your1Friend

        The produce from your home garden probably is much healthier than the “food” from our toxic agricultural brothels.

        Today’s pesticides, herbicides, and GMOs have got to go.

        • Bob

          The next will be goats and chickens. Take local rule away and let the the central government take over.

      • Evji108

        no school is doing that

  • Eric Smith

    What happens when people start to collect rainwater? Will the govt. be as generous then?

    • Gene Pool

      We already are

    • Michtou

      There actually is a valid reason for not allowing rainwater collection. It has to do with recharging the water tables and keeping the watershed healthy.

      • Eric Smith

        So the government owns rainwater and the clouds, too?

  • Ned B.

    Next step: make it legal to grow your own pot.

    • Smokes

      It is Ned, with a medical reason.

      • lakua

        Not good enough. It must be legal for recreational use as well.

        • Willis Newton

          All use is medical whether you know it or not.

          • lakua

            That may be true, but we shouldn’t need a doctor’s recommendation to use it. Here in WA anyone over 21 can walk into a store and buy it. It should be like that everywhere.

    • Gene Pool

      Stupid Flanders !! DOH !!

  • Alan Greenhome

    The right to grow your own food is legal in most places, right? Moving agriculture closer to home has many benefits, less energy, less chemicals and less water to start with. Commercial Urban Agriculture is part of the #ParallelStrategy. AParallelWorld.com

  • Leslie Martinez

    Finally does something right,

  • Smmmart1

    Growing your own food is one of the healthiest things you can do. The vegetables can be picked ripe when most of the vitamins and nutrients are present. This law is a good law that will help Californians.

  • Cynthia Gurin

    This article misrepresents the Florida comment. The fine was for a zoning code violation, planting a large vegetable garden in the front yard of a Miami Shores home. (Perfectly legal to grow vegetables in the back yard) Zoning intent, perfectly reasonable in this very nice subdivision, is to maintain property values.

    • Michtou

      Grass is not prettier than vegetables. I might be more likely to buy a home in a place where people can grow in their front yards! Less cookie-cutter conformity, more human values.

      • Cynthia Gurin

        Happily you can choose to purchase a home in an area where you CAN have have rows of corn and beanstalks and tomatoes and squash in your front yard, or, you can choose to buy a home where vegetable gardening is limited to back yards. You just can’t arbitrarily choose to ignore existing regulations.

        • Michtou

          Well, yeah, I can buy in California.

          • Cynthia Gurin

            There’s absolutely no lack of Miami neighborhoods in which one can grow vegetables in front yards.

    • Richard A Hill

      Ah yes “Property values” – so important to self entitled and pompous people. I would not buy in an area where people are more concerned with “property value” and less with the value of the property.
      Those people are dinosaurs and dying out. A few more decades and they will cease to exist or have all moved to Cuba and Costa Rica and we can all live in our homes instead of being pathologically driven to “Show” them.

      I favor absolute rights to the homeowner: grow your vegges, paint the house fuschia, enjoy your home. The only ordinance I favor is the noise ordinance 10p-6a M-F and midnight to 8am on Sa Su.
      ..
      “property values” – please see the graphic from gene pool below

      • Cynthia Gurin

        In America and elsewhere, especially now when the middle class is being slowly strangled to death, a family’s home typically represents their most valuable investment. When well maintained, a home also increases in value at a far greater pace than money in a savings account or in an investment in stocks and bonds. While one may cavalierly eschew the emotional and financial security related to home ownership, preferring instead the freedom to paint one’s house fuschia, raise chickens, corn, tomatoes and cabbage in the front yard and have a rusted pickup truck up on blocks, another family may prefer to live in a well maintained neighborhood with the assurance that when it comes time to take advantage of their home equity, they actually have some. That equity comes in pretty handy when it comes time to pay for college, cover a medical emergency, use it to cover moving expenses in the event of a job transfer, make a down payment on another property, etc.etc.etc. Everyone has their own priorities, a fuschia paint job is important to you, someone else’s nest egg for their retirement will be important to them. Happily there are neighborhoods available for each preferred lifestyle. That’s why there are zoning regulations and deed restrictions. If you have a couple of acres in an area zoned Agricultural, you’re probably not going to be wild about the idea of a developer buying up the land next door with plans to put in a zillion cookie cutter apartments for cranky old people who will constantly bitch at you. You can oppose that developer’s rezoning request and tell the city council you didn’t buy acreage and build your dream home out there just so some clown developer could screw it up for you and your neighbors. There are reasons for everything, Richard.

  • Elizabeth

    Here is hoping people test their soil first. It is important to know what is in your soil before you start growing food.

  • ActinUpinTexas

    The laws in certain areas are put into place because of the problem with critters…. rats, squirrels, roaches, bugs….in neighborhoods meant for housing and very close together lots… Compost piles, unpicked fruit, rotten fruit left to spoil on the ground, water consumption etc….. Leave us face it there are companies like Apple that need to be catered to in California (exemptions and waivers made for their benevolent sacrifices and massive land grab in a land locked valley the average Jane and Joe citizen cannot afford to rent or buy property in), that their mother ship in the interior is supposed to be touting the fruits and vegetable growing it requires to fill it’s many self contained food shacks for their employee congregation. Self contained, and self reliant is key to understanding the mindset of the liberal left…. not for all but for the select few. There’s nothing any liberal does for the whole of mankind, there’s always, always an asterisk. Think Zombie apocalypse…. or Kingdom with a moat built for the end of times.

    • Mark Coren

      If one was to look for companies being pandered to in California, number one on that list would be almond growers, whose water consumption and practices are antithetical to California’s environmental needs and interests.

      • Sandra Bell

        That’s true about almonds needing lots of water and growing them in California is nuts (so to speak). However, animal agriculture is, by far, the highest user of water, but no one is talking much about that because they are more addicted to hamburgers than to almonds. Neither belongs in California.

    • Sandra Bell

      Here we go again — putting a huge “liberal” label on something that manifests across the board and is individual, not exclusively red or blue. When people keep using the terms “liberals” and “right-wingers”, I realize they need to wake up and see things as they truly are.

      • ActinUpinTexas

        Left my home state because of the total take over by the Democrat led lunacy regarding environmental laws and the anti-mfg business mentality…. easy for the upper echelon to sit in their ivory towers in their business suits and Prada quite another when you are a high school graduate and there are no funds to go to college and strap $100,000.00 on to your back to degree up. Big Tax evading Corps in California could have and should have been investing in the citizenry here in America (Without being told to do so or creating a law to mandate it) Vocational schools and factory assembly work options…. Instead we have the taxpayers paying for uneducated non-trained in anything welfare recipients and the jobs being sent to China (the biggest polluter by far on the planet)….. Yeah Apple building a Environmental mini-kingdom while they create a product that is manufactured outside of our nation away from the restraints of the ECO standards they would have to abide by in California…… needless to say the parked offshore moneys they claim to not be able to bring back because of the costs…. The terms used to describe Liberals vs. conservatives are used because of mindset and ideology just as religion is. Good ideas also have to be practical ideas…. Although EVERYone should be eating more fruits and vegetables, smaller portions of meats, growing them is and always will be a problem on a global scale. I never had a problem growing a small garden in California… this new fluff law opens up community gardening, still need water though… good luck on that.

  • California Kid

    I applaud the Governor.

  • Don Lovell

    now he needs to go after those with ELF devices aimed at our gardens/gardeners, by electronic warfare specialists, who occupy the neighborhoods, or are gardeners just more fodder/targets for the covert warfare operations?

  • John L. Battey

    This is not a Liberal or Conservative idea, it’s a small government common sense American idea that serves freedom and the people – and probably a good salad.

  • Sam Skaaf

    There is a typo where it says Designed to removes barriers to growing.

  • Cal Griggs

    Great news! Now, where was the water coming from again?

  • YouStartedIt

    Talk about archaic laws!!

  • Granny Good-Law

    Not
    good law, and before you throw organic homegrown tomatoes at me, listen
    up. If the govt presumes the power to allow you to grow food, it also
    presumes the power to forbid you to grow food. While on the surface, we
    are tempted to kiss the jackboots and say “thank you, mass’ah” for
    giving me privilege, you need to see beneath the facade. You already
    have the right to grow your own food, IF you are truly free!!!

  • rightminded

    How about we just get the government (Fed, state, local, and HOAs) off our back witht the stupid laws in the first freaking place??? How stupid is a law telling you you can’t grow tomatoes on your own property??/ Wake up to the tyranny of big government, people!!!

    • Evji108

      HOA rules are not governmental. they are contractual. If the homeowners get together they can change the rules in their neighborhood.

      • Smokes

        If we all really get together, we can change the Government too. As Jefferson once said, “a little revolution every once in a while is a good thing!”

  • MontieR

    Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    This is awesome. I had no idea there were so many laws against growing at home. I was raised on fresh vegetables from our gardens. No matter were we lived we always had a garden. Hope home gardens are trending this year.