Adam Guerrero, the Memphis teacher who last week became the latest victim of outdated city codes that classify urban agriculture as a nuisance, will get to keep his garden, ruled county judge Larry Potter in a hearing today. Guerrero agreed to spruce things up a little — he’ll keep his plants trimmed, remove a few worm bins, and install mesh covers on his rain barrels to keep the mosquitoes out.
The Memphis Flyer reports that Potter appeared concerned about the huge amount of negative attention the case attracted across the internet, saying, “I never said you could not have a garden. That’s inaccurate. I’ve always encouraged environmental activism, sustainability, going green, and blight reduction.”
Levi Dowdy, the neighbor who originally brought the complaint against Guerrero, attended the hearing and voiced his concerns that the cleanup measures Potter ordered won’t be enough to staunch the smell or supposed rat problem created by the garden. But he didn’t appear to sway the judge.
Guerrero’s brush with the law could turn out to benefit the garden’s educational mission. Potter touted the idea of finding a piece of vacant land that Guerrero could use as an outdoor classroom, a devoted space for the hands-on training he’s been giving local youth in everything from beekeeping to biodiesel production. The City of Memphis will scope out potential spaces.
So it’s a happy ending for this gardener. Now that cities like Chicago are reworking their laws to embrace agriculture, and cases like Guerrero’s have received such a groundswell of social media response, it looks like things are looking up for gardeners and their supporters. Here’s to a future of more forgiving and flexible urgan ag regulations — and more city-grown veggies!
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