Jail Time for Gardening in Canada

Becker Farm

Grist is calling this a trend, but doesn’t it take three times to make a trend?

Hey, remember the woman threatened with 93 days in jail for growing a garden in her front yard? She could have a cellmate! Dirk Becker of Lantzville, British Columbia turned his scraped-dry gravel pit of a property into a thriving organic farm, so of course he’s facing six months of jail time. Why? Well, the thing is, this farm was full of DIRT. You can’t have dirt in a yard! It’s unsanitary.

The Beckers were cited under Lantzville’s “unsightly premises” bylaw, for having piles of dirt and manure on the property. As the Beckers wryly point out, the letter came on the same day that 8,000 compost bins were distributed to residents in their region. So, to recap: Gravel pit: not unsightly. Beautiful farm with dirt in it: unsightly. Fertilizer in bin in kitchen: civic responsibility. Fertilizer actually out fertilizing: filth!

As it turns out, Lantzville has a bylaw that residentially zoned plots can’t grow food at all — even the no-dirt kind! — whether or not they’re farming commercially. The Beckers’ 2.5-acre property is zoned as residential, so they essentially are not allowed to eat anything that comes out of their garden. Ah, local government, always improving lives.

Grist: Jail time for gardening: Now officially a trend

My 2009 survival strategies

Meeting more people

This one’s simple: meet more people in the real world. Attend more conferences, unconferences, and meetups. I know of no better way than “networking” (however crass that sounds) to find jobs, collaborators, business partners, romantic partners, customers, clients, etc. etc. In increasingly precarious times, having strong networks has never been more important.

Indoor gardening

I have no illusions about getting “off the grid” but I do want to substantially supplement my diet with homegrown food. Given that during WWII 40% of all vegtables eaten were grown at home, I think it’s reasonable to think that gardening will be a key part of our food security moving forward into the recession.

My partner and I have access to outdoor gardening space at our apartment building, and live about 3 blocks from a community garden. But since we’re planning on moving (and obviously we missed planting season) we’re planning on starting with a small indoor hydroponic system, probably an EarthBox (or maybe a DIY EarthBox) with an LED grow light. Also, I just ordered the Espresso Oyster Mushroom Patch from Fungi Perfecti. I’ll be sharing my results and experiences with the process.

Excercise & ergonomics

Your health is probably the most sound investment you can make at this point. I’d done a decent job of keeping in shape in recent years until 2008, but I totally fell off this year. My partner and I have been doing vinyasa yoga at home lately, and I plan on keeping up with this. More walking and biking is also mandatory.

I’m also dedicating myself to learning up on ergonomics. Bruce Sterling has a good rant on the subject here, but doesn’t fully drive home the health angle. Most of you reading this are probably destroying your eyes and back right now. Hell, I’m screwing myself up writing this. This must stop.

Start using local currency

I’ve been fascinated with local currency for some time, but have never actually used it. It’s about time I signed up for Cascadia Hour Exchange.

Committing to solving global problems

Perhaps the best way to protect oneself against the global problems we face is to solve the problems. Thus, I am committing myself to converting all my experience to the highest advantage of others. So from now on, everything I do will revolve around a couple simple questions: does this benefit humanity and if not, how can it?

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