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Frum Woman Faces Jail for Planting Vegetable Garden

My Fox

“The price of organic food is kind of through the roof,” said Julie Bass. So, why not grow your own? However, Bass’ garden is a little unique because it’s in her front yard.

“We thought it’d be really cool to do it so the neighbors could see. The kids love it. The kids from the neighborhood all come and help,” she said.

Bass’ cool garden has landed her in hot water with the City of Oak Park. Code enforcement gave her a warning, then a ticket and now she’s been charged with a misdemeanor.

“I think it’s sad that the City of Oak Park that’s already strapped for cash is paying a lot of money to have a prosecutor bothering us,” Bass told FOX 2’s Alexis Wiley.

“That’s not what we want to see in a front yard,” said Oak Park City Planner Kevin Rulkowski.

Why? The city is pointing to a code that says a front yard has to have suitable, live, plant material. The big question is what’s “suitable?”

We asked Bass whether she thinks she has suitable, live, plant material in her front yard.

“It’s definitely live. It’s definitely plant. It’s definitely material. We think it’s suitable,” she said.

So, we asked Rulkowski why it’s not suitable.

“If you look at the definition of what suitable is in Webster’s dictionary, it will say common. So, if you look around and you look in any other community, what’s common to a front yard is a nice, grass yard with beautiful trees and bushes and flowers,” he said.

But when you look at front yards that are unsightly and overgrown, is Bass’ vegetable garden really worth the city’s time and money?

We asked Rulkowski what he would say to those who feel this is ridiculous.

“I would argue that you won’t find that opinion from most people in Oak Park,” he responded.

“I have a bunch of little children and we take walks to come by and see everything growing. I think it’s a very wonderful thing for our neighborhood,” said neighbor Devorah Gold.

“They don’t have (anything) else to do (if) they’re going to take her to court for a garden,” said neighbor Ora Goodwin.

We did find one neighbor who wasn’t a fan and thinks it needs to go.

“I know there’s a backyard. Do it in the backyard,” he said.

“They say, ‘Why should you grow things in the front?’ Well, why shouldn’t I? They’re fine. They’re pretty. They’re well maintained,” said Bass.

It looks like this critical debate is headed for a jury trial and neither side is backing down.

“I could sell out and save my own self and just not have them bother me anymore, but then there’s no telling what they’re going to harass the next person about,” Bass told us.

There’s another pretrial scheduled for July 26. The next step could be a jury trial.

25 Comments

  • 1. Rebecca wrote:

    I remember a Beverly Hillbillies episode where Granny Clampett did the same thing.

  • 2. ENOUGH!!!!!! wrote:

    i hope you all saw what i saw the only neighbor that had a problem with the garden WAS A JEW!!!!

    and i would bet the city doesint care about the garden, but if there are neighbors complineing they dont have a choice.

    messirah i WRONG and thats what will destroy the jewish nation.

  • 3. R. Gould wrote:

    More foolish “Big Brother” watching us. Cities can not balance budgets and yet they seem to have the money to spend on ridiculous and frivolous things like this. Maybe the city inspectors thinks all vegetables come from the supper market and not from the garden.

  • 5. era wrote:

    i agree with all the above. what a world, that our reality that supermarkets are where we think that vegetables begin in, and then antisemitism is the spice to use to enhance the misconception.

  • 6. This guy is a tool wrote:

    If they’re basing their lawsuit on the dictionary, they’ve got serious problems.
    suit·a·ble/ˈso͞otəbəl/
    Adjective:Right or appropriate for a particular person, purpose, or situation.

  • 7. Chana wrote:

    Messirah about molesters and child abusers isn’t wrong. But if you are talking about messirah because of jealousy or hatred, then yes, there is something very wrong with that.

  • 8. Milhouse wrote:

    He’s lying about the dictionary. There are several definitions of “suitable”; “common” is NOT one of them.

  • 9. a neighbor wrote:

    I live in the neighborhood, the houses they showed that are over grown are not in the blocks that make up the frum area. I have to tell you it looks ridiculous. I would not want to live next door or across the street from it. Luckily I am 2 blocks away and can’t see it from my house.

  • 11. ATTN: OAK PARKers wrote:

    if everyone would plant just 1 vege in their front yard – be it in a planter pot or in the ground, it will automatically become a COMMON PLANT. Then there is no case against Julie.

  • 12. not in CH wrote:

    I guess Michelle Obama will soon be Prosecuted for growing a garden by the White House.

  • 13. insane wrote:

    Casey Anthony walks & a housewife with a garden is vilified. Nothing to say.

  • 14. declasse intellectual wrote:

    # This type of putting thier finger into everything we do and not do is the ultimate aim of Obama and his administration-=-mlre government interfverence into what we do at any time. Maybe that is why we are such a mess as is.

  • 15. Eyesore wrote:

    Her front lawn is an eyesore. Full stop. Let her at least plant some grass or put decorative rocks between the planters.

  • 16. backyard planting wrote:

    Although I would like to support this Frum family in planting a vegetable garden on their FRONT lawn…..I have to say I’m not in favor of this idea (I have my own vegetable garden in my BACKYARD). If all the Front lawns on the block have a uniformed look of all grass only, then it is an eyesore to see a dirt patch of a lawn with raw wooden boxes and vegetables growing. Why can’t she plant it in the backyard? I personally would not want this on my block. It doesn’t belong and it might even bring down the property values on that street.

  • 17. garden girl wrote:

    I agree that there are worse things to worry about but it does look ridiculous. I wouldn’t either want my neighbor growing a whole garden in her front yard..it doesnt look nice but to each their own.

  • 19. Worth nothing wrote:

    To number 18: maybe u don’t know the property values in Oak park the vegetables are soon going to cost more than the houses!!!

  • 20. Sue the city!!!!!!!! wrote:

    The only reason they have no grass is bc the city did not take care of the oak tree roots Which caused floods in peoples basements!!! Residents had to use their own money to fix basmants, dig up front yards, replace pipes and bring in dirt to replant yards The city doesn’t allow taking down trees if the city wanted the yards to look dig. Let them pay 4 it!!!!! All should have more ahavat Yisroel especially b4 three weeks

  • 21. www.merriam-webster.com wrote:

    Definition of SUITABLE

    1 obsolete : similar, matching

    2
    a : adapted to a use or purpose <suitable for kitchen use>
    b : satisfying propriety : proper <suitable dress>
    c : able, qualified <a suitable candidate for the job>

  • 22. KANSAS FRUM FARMER wrote:

    WE HAVE BETTER SUNLIGHT IN THE FRONT YARD BUT WE MIXED THE VEGETABLES WITH “COMMON FRONT YARD PLANTS AND FLOWERS” WE ALSO USED PLANTERS AND HAVE GRASS NOT STRAW

  • 23. R. Neubort wrote:

    I agree with the city of Detroit being “strapped for cash” that this is their way of raising money, it is a pretty poor stat of being. If the garden is maintained what is the difference. Suitable has many different definitions and not only common. The synonmom for suitable is not common alone.

  • 24. To #8 wrote:

    I’m also from Oak Park and must say that that area has a lot of overgrown trees and grass and is in pretty bad shape and her garden actually looks better than the average lawn on those blocks in the that area.

  • 25. THIS GUY HERE wrote:

    WOW, i KNOW PEOPLE THAT HAVE VEGIES GROWING IN THE FRONTYARD, I SEE NOTHING WRONG WITH IT AT ALL. YEAH, IT COULD BE MORE TASTEFUL TO THE EYE, BUT I’VE SEEN FRONTLAWNS THAT LOOK LIKE A CARNIVAL EXPLODED ON THEM BEFORE.

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