Ferguson Man Fights to Grow Veggies in Front Yard [Updated]

tricamo garden.jpg
City officials say this garden poses safety and erosion concerns.

Update: (Tuesday, July 31, 2:45 p.m.) Karl Tricamo emailed us with the results of his appeal to the Board of Adjustments: "Appeal went well, and the City's [Ferguson] determination that the garden violates code was overturned."

Original post follows.

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Karl Tricamo thought he had found a harmless way to provide food for his fiancée and infant son this summer.

But when the recently laid-off Tricamo set out to plant a vegetable garden outside his Ferguson home, he encountered a small obstacle. The backyard didn't get enough sunlight. So Tricamo moved his garden to the front yard, tilling up a 25-foot by 35-foot plot of ground he's come to call a "yarden."

Today the yarden is in full bloom, sprouting multiple varieties of beans, corn, peppers, tomatoes, squashes and melons that Tricamo boasts were all planted by seed and are entirely GMO free. Yet the fruit of Tricamo's labors soon could be headed prematurely to the compost heap if Ferguson officials have their way.

In March a city employee visited Tricamo to inform him of an anonymous complaint allegedly made about the garden. A letter from the city arrived several weeks later, outlining various ordinances that the 29-year-old father is said to have violated.

Tricamo isn't buying any of it.

"Everything is within ordinance," Tricamo tells Gut Check. "But instead of working with me and giving me explanations for citations, the city chooses to harass and bully me."

Tricamo has taken the fight online, writing about his his battles with the city on his blog, Vegetable Yarden, and citing -- in his defense -- the wording of the very ordinances that city officials say he's violating.

"From the beginning, we've been wanting to reach a compromise for everyone involved," Ferguson City Manager John Shaw tells Gut Check. "We want to come to a conclusion and work with him."

Yet the fact of the matter, says Shaw, is that the garden violates city codes.

"Our priority has been in the interest of citizens," says Shaw. "This garden poses multiple safety issues, including erosion problems and attracting insect and rodents and pests."

tricamo garden before.jpg
Tricamo's garden earlier this spring.
Tricamo scoffs at that rationale, noting that he has installed an edging around the garden and laid wood chips on the soil to prevent erosion. As for pests, how would his garden attract animals that a backyard garden wouldn't? Meanwhile, Tricamo says all his immediate neighbors are in support of his garden.

Nick Kasoff, a Ferguson resident who lives nearby, is one of several supporters.

"I'm familiar with the ordinances, and based on what I'm seeing here, nothing looks to be out of ordinance," comments Kasoff.

As it stands now, the fate of Tricamo's garden will ultimately be decided at the city's Board of Adjustment meeting scheduled for July 25. Win or lose, though, Tricamo believes he's fighting the good fight and takes comfort in knowing that he's not the first person to disagree with a city about front yard gardens.

Last year a Michigan woman made national news when officials in the suburban Detroit town of Oak Park threatened her with jail time over her front yard garden. And in Tulsa this summer a woman sued the city after coming home to find that a municipal work crew removed her front yard garden.

Says Tricamo: "I could lose my garden tomorrow, and I will not have any regrets that I stood up for the right to have it."

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36 comments
norrkat
norrkat

This is actually a "new" fad called foodscaping, though the "authorities" don't seem to like it much for some stupid reason.  My neighbor had to move his garden from front to side yard due to "historical district" reasons.  Made me wonder how "historical" people ate since we can't hang our wash out either.  But, even more germane to the article, a small, grassroots community garden in North St. Louis is being bullied by their own alderman as he wants to PAVE it and make the garden into a parking lot!  Who are these crazed people that get themselves elected and turn on the very people who elected them?

rubiconbound
rubiconbound like.author.displayName 1 Like

I think his front yard looks well-tended and beautiful. I'd live next to him, shoot, I'd probably offer some of my front yard space to him as well. I personally believe a front yard of grass is nothing but a useless waste of space and in many cases filled with pesticides and herbicides, and is a waste of the water people use to keep it green in our hot summers. Whoever sets rules that a yard must be grass and not a practical alternative like this, they need to not make the rules.

warriorchick1506
warriorchick1506 like.author.displayName 1 Like

Wow! I'm so glad this guy is fighting back! This is crazy! Yet another way for the government to control our lives!

rich277
rich277 like.author.displayName 1 Like

Horse $hit !!!!  Thats what he needs is a bunch of horse manure.  Ridiculous.  No wonder that town is over ridden with thugs.  They chase the good people away.

jeanjoel
jeanjoel like.author.displayName 1 Like

If they decide to remove his garden I'm going to stand in front of it in protest with my friends. This needs to stop now. We have the right to grow our own food!

Jarn Hodgson
Jarn Hodgson like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

I actually don't live in America, I'm an Aussi, but isn't America suppose to be the land of free. Where are the freedoms of this mans rights to plant out his own property, surely its unconstitutional to deny his rights. the more I read this story the more it pisses me off, what a screwed up local authority. Fuck! the country has a lot bigger issues than a mans attempt to feed his family being viewed by some as an eyesore.   

Deb Green
Deb Green like.author.displayName 1 Like

a well tended garden of any kind is a plus. This one is beautiful!  not sure how one could say flat ground is an erosion risk. unless there is an ordinance specifically prohibiting having a garden in the front yard what on earth is the problem?

Misspegs29
Misspegs29 like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

who decides what plant is for the front yard and what for the back? Frankly his veg garden is in alot better shape than my ornamental front garden

Jamjessop
Jamjessop like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

...sorry if I seem a bit harsh to some people, but seriously, I am pretty sure considering feeding yourself illegal and an eyesore is WAY more harsh. Most people do not realize what this government is and HAS done to keep you dependent. THAT is harsh. ...and I can promise you, it's going to get WAY more harsh if we don't step up before this crap gets way out of hand.

Jamjessop
Jamjessop

...and Ted, you are a waste of humanity. ...try not to get your little special toes dirty on thos stupid rotten useless Earth. Idiot.

Jamjessop
Jamjessop

I say, fuck Ferguson. Welcome to Earth people. We eat and live from it. Yes there ARE bugs and rodents and all that. This is insane that it is "illegal" to feed yourself in America. Half of you self righteous white folks just need to go fuck off somewhere.

Vicenza77
Vicenza77 like.author.displayName 1 Like

This man is trying to provide FOOD for his family - instead it seems the City of Ferguson would rather him use food stamps and WIC instead of providing for his family.  This story is disgraceful.  We are in hard times and the city needs to recognize that and see that him possibly being in slight violation of a ridiculous city ordinance is actually adding value to his family, community, and saving taxpayers money.   What I think this man should do is find a way to pass a law in Ferguson that allows food gardens in the front lawn...in fact, someone probably should think about making that a state-wide law being more and more people are turning back to growing their own food.  

Ksquires910
Ksquires910 like.author.displayName 1 Like

A garden is a wise use of space, wherever it is planted. This garden is beautifully kept and I would be pleased to have it in my yard or my neighbor's. Hopefully he will win his battle.

Jarn Hodgson
Jarn Hodgson like.author.displayName 1 Like

Erosion, rubbish, even without the wood chips its planted out on a flat block the roots will prevent erosion. Eyesore, well I love it, it looks like my front yard. I bet if he planted the yard out with roses not a word would have been said. And I bet if he had no grass and just plain dirt with no vegetation, a real erosion issue I bet nothing would have been said. I suspect a useless idiot that can't grow their own vegetables is jealous and can't stand the fact that someone has something he does not, Greed from the complainer and power from the local authorities is the real issue here. Good on you mate, I say get the rest of your street to follow your example, then rip down the street name and replace it with vegetable patch avenue.   

Jim S.
Jim S. like.author.displayName 1 Like

 Jollify.great idea. I'd move to his block if the other homeowners decided to follow Mr. Tricamo's inspiring, awesome initiative.  To Ferguson's government: I thought your officials had more progressive minds than to stoop this low. Ferguson could encourage such sustainable initiative, not suppress it! Ferguson has the exemplary EarthDance farmers, as well as their award-winning Ferguson Farmers Market.

Jollify
Jollify

It bends my mind how anyone can find the veges less attractive than the lawn, I think the vege garden is gorgeous in so many ways! Go you!

Dez Crawford
Dez Crawford like.author.displayName 1 Like

When my mother planted a Victory Garden in World War Two, it was "patriotic."  Today it is an "eyesore."  SHAME on this country.  

Susan Trowbridge Adams
Susan Trowbridge Adams like.author.displayName 1 Like

I heart front yard gardens. They're patriotic. They're thrifty. They enrich the soil and provide real food. They help divert compostable waste. They are safe for children and pets. Erosion, my left ear. Those revenuers better not show up at my place; they'll be drivin' up the wrong holler.  

Susan Trowbridge Adams
Susan Trowbridge Adams

sorry -- double-posted. Hate that. Now you have my apology instead; I can't figure out how to delete, only edit. WELL DONE FRONT YARD GARDENING!

Joey Toms
Joey Toms

I don't find it aesthetically pleasing, but I wouldn't complain if he was my neighbor.  In fact, I'd probably think it was cool to see someone doing something productive in their yard.

Richard_stupidhead
Richard_stupidhead

my only criticism - that space between the sidewalk and curb would be good for wildflowers. otherwise in a few weeks I'd be bartering for fresh produce with a neighbor like that.

Karl Tricamo
Karl Tricamo like.author.displayName 1 Like

Thank you for the comments everyone. Even you Ted. This is a free country, sort of, and everyone is entitled to their opinions. No matter how vulgar or hateful they may be, it is our right to share them. Just as well, it is our right to live the lifestyle(s) we so choose, as long as our actions are in accord with written law. If I was breaking ordinance with my endeavor, I would be in the wrong. However, I am in full compliance. Please take a look at www.vegetableyarden.wordpress.com for more details. Thank you again Brent, for helping to show this battle to the public. Best wishes always. Karl Tricamo

Francesbabb
Francesbabb

When will neighbors learn that their right to control what happens ends at their property line?  Neighbors need to mind their own GD business!

Laura
Laura like.author.displayName 1 Like

I hope the city plans to cite everyone who has butterfly bushes planted in their front yard for attracting insects or bird feeders for attracting insects and rodents. 

Jason
Jason like.author.displayName 1 Like

 Ted, If you painted your front door bright orange with pink polka dots because your liked those colors, even though I would hate it and it would be an eyesore to me, I would not have the right to dictate to you to repaint your door. I can understand that you may hate his garden and that it is an eyesore to you, but it is well within his right to plant whatever he wants on his own property. Jason

Cbrooks0905
Cbrooks0905 like.author.displayName 1 Like

You're a moron.  It's easy to see that the city and all cities across the country don't like when people are self-sustained.  They want us depending on them.  Fuck them and fuck you too.  

Jbird
Jbird like.author.displayName 1 Like

Ted, you're a douchebag.

Ted
Ted

Well, I can say for sure that if this guy were my neighbor, I'd complain to the city, plus I'd spray some locally-produced Montsanto vegetation killer all over the plants some evening, when everyone else was in bed.  This is an eyesore. No doubt about it! It's disgusting.  And I wouldn't stand for it!

Fuck-suburbs
Fuck-suburbs

Ted you sound like a real treat of a cuntface to have to live by. People like you should seriously mind your own fucking business and go fuck yourself simultaneously. Fucking  busybody dildo, get a fucking life.

Debi P
Debi P

It looks like a well kept yarden, I'm all for it!

Osoule
Osoule

Crashtest I love you

crashtest
crashtest like.author.displayName 1 Like

Plastic Pink Flamingos can be had as cheaply as 2 for $8.00 when bought in quantity, so for not too much money you could have an army of them in your front yard if your garden loses out.....see how Mr & Mrs Anonymous like that.

Guesty McGuesterson
Guesty McGuesterson like.author.displayName 1 Like

Who decided that grass is the only thing you can do in the front yard anyway? Unless there's some kind of Homeowners Association covenant, the city should butt out regarding the non-nuisance use of private property. Lawn mowers are huge polluters and grass - especially non-native - is very unsustainable, requiring wasting water and putting fertilizers and other chemicals which then wash down into the storm drains and pollute the rivers. Much better for all of us if he uses the space & resources to grow food.

Michael Wilding
Michael Wilding

How is this worse than some yards that have the tall grass plants and other non-lawn type plants that make the front of the house look like a jungle?  

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