Math teacher Charged With Having A Front Yard Garden In Memphis

By Julie Sews - 11:14:00 AM

Adam Guerrero's Front Yard Garden
Sounds like the fight for front yard gardens continues.  Who would have ever thought that in America it's possible that some citizens would have to appear before a judge due to their front yard gardens.  Well over the summer Julie Bass of Oakpark MI was facing 93 days in jail due to her front yard garden, eventually the charges were dropped.  And now in Memphis, TN Adam Guerrero faces charges against two city codes for having his garden.  Adam is a math teacher who bought a foreclosed property and turned it into a model of self sufficiency to teach local kids about gardening, making soap, beekeeping, biodiesel, and composting.  Hmmm...what a blight on the community.  I can see why a neighbor complained. 

Adam Guerrero was given a citation that suggested his garden was violating city ordinances 48-38 and 48-87,
which state:

Sec. 48-38 - Failure to remove personal property
It shall be unlawful for any owner of personal property to fail or refuse to comply with the orders of the manager
of housing and code enforcement to remove from the premises abandoned vehicles, appliances, vehicle parts and/
or any other piece or pieces of personal property if such personal property is dangerous to the public health, safety
or welfare; or creates an unsightly condition upon such property tending to reduce the value thereof; or is a
nuisance; or invites plundering; or promotes urban blight and deterioration in the community; or creates a fire
hazard; or violates the zoning regulations of the city.
(Ord. No. 4232, 1-4-94)

Sec. 48-87 - To be maintained in clean and sanitary condition
All exterior property areas shall be maintained in a clean and sanitary condition free from any accumulation of
rubbish or garbage.
(Ord. No. 4232, 1-4-94)

This citation was upheld in the Shelby County Environmental Court, and Adam was ordered to remove his garden.  He is ordered back to court on September 23rd to prove he has followed the order.

I did a quick google search for "Memphis city code composting" and did not find anything.  Does this mean they have no specific ordinance regulating composting?  Minneapolis does it's website says"City Ordinance requires that your bin be placed at least one foot from any property line, and 20 feet from any habitable building other than your own home.  It must be in some type of bin".  On Minneapolis's website it actually describes how to start composting and describes an option as using wire fence as a bin (this is what we did).  It seems to me what they are most concerned with is the composting drawing pests, but it looks to me like he is actually following the city code we have in Minneapolis (unless his bins are to close to buildings or property lines which is hard to tell).  The fact that his bins are covered should make it very unlikely to have any issues of smells or pests.  The neighbors other complaint was that Adam's cat sits on the hood of their car and scratches it.....that's another issue altogether.

 
News
Memphis Flyer Article
WREG News Local News Video

Photos
Slide Show of Adam's Garden and the Kids

Visit the save Adam Guerrero's Garden blog started by a supporter.

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