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Have you heard? There’s a woman in a Detroit suburb who could face jail time if she doesn’t remove the vegetable garden from her front yard. When we bought our first house six years ago, my spouse and I planted a peach tree and an edible garden in our front yard. We felt the fruits and veggies would make for great conversation starters with our new neighbors. And it worked. One of my favorite memories is when we first met Grace, an elderly woman who lives a block away, and learned that her family grows chard and collards in their backyard. We swapped our cucumbers for some of her leafy greens and our friendship blossomed.

Front Yard Vegetable Garden Controversy

Photographer Fritz Haeg (top row)

Top row photos via Sustainable Transition, from photographer Fritz Haeg & Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn. Bottom row photos from Ecosalon.

Lately, as I drive around Atlanta, I’ve noticed more and more front yard gardens. We’re talking raised beds with tomato plants and rows of corn. As evident in this Sunset magazine article, front yard edible gardens are popular in California. With all that sunshine it would practically be a sin not to there. But apparently not everywhere, like the growing controversy in the Detroit burbs. Then there’s the gardener in the county where my mom lives who ran afoul of code enforcement for growing too many veggies.

Do you have or would you plant an edible garden in your front yard? Is it wrong if it’s the only part of the property with good sunlight? Is it plain old ugly? Or can it be beautiful?

Tell us what you think in the comments below.



29 Responses

  1. heather says:

    I find a well-tended vegetable garden to be just as, if not more, beautiful than a flower garden. And far prettier than plain green (or brown!) grass.

  2. Dave Reed says:

    I fully support growing food plants anywhere and everywhere.

  3. Dawn says:

    I think it's a great use of lawn – but look at this! Poor lady… http://www.theagitator.com/2011/07/07/does-michel

  4. Leigh Ann says:

    I think they should have done it in the backyard. Why stir up trouble?

  5. Mary says:

    Why not, the beauty of planting and eating your own food has been done for thousands of years. Why would they make rules about planting a vegetable garden. It's healthy and it's good to exercise.

  6. It's funny you guys are talking about vegetables.
    Apparently the City I grew up in on the east coast of Canada is starting to encourage people planting gardens.

  7. studio assistant says:

    Thanks for the post…and could you please add correct credits & links to the top two photos…

    Upper right is:
    Edible Estates regional prototype garden #4: London, UK http://www.fritzhaeg.com/garden/initiatives/edibl

    Upper left is:
    Edible Estates regional prototype garden #6: Baltimore, MD: http://www.fritzhaeg.com/garden/initiatives/edibl

  8. Lea81194 says:

    Thinking about vegetable gardens, I too think they should be kept in the backyard. Some folks keep a well kept garden and others maybe not so nice. This is the motivation behind keeping things hidden in back if need be.

    • Anna@HGTV says:

      It would need to be kept up well. No withering vines. And a commitment to plant ornamental cabbages in the winter, if you live below the Mason-Dixon Line.

    • ATLgardener says:

      The folks that don't keep a well tended garden will probably also not keep a well tended yard of grass, flower beds, shrubbery, etc. so that argument doesn't really fly. Probably better to make the best use of the space and sunlight available and if you are blessed enough to have a yard to grow anything, why not some beautiful produce?

  9. Karli_HGTV says:

    Such an interesting debate. It begs the question, if someone is a property owner, should they be allowed to do whatever they want on their property, unless it's dangerous or blatantly offensive? Personally, I don't find veggies a dangerous threat, but to each his own. :)

  10. test_dummy says:

    It shouldn't matter what is grown in the front yard, but at the same time, it does make sense that it be well maintained. Just as an unkempt lawn can be seen as an eyesore, so can a vegtable garden, and simply growing a vegetable garden doesn't absolve the gardener of the responsibility to be in synch with the neighborhood. I grow my vegetables in the front yard in a small town in Georgia, partly because that's where the sun is most of the day, but also because I find large lawns to be very wasteful in water resources, time, and so on.

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