We bought our home a couple of years ago, and in the process took on a steeply sloping, strangely-shaped suburban lot with almost no level ground apart from the house itself. Our plan was - and remains - to have the yard space as we would like it within three years; this means that we have only a year left to achieve our goals - but there's no pressure. If we don't quite make it, we won't be firing anybody (there is only us anyway).
My wife is the driving force behind our garden, she is the strategic planner and the enthusiastic weeder, and the one who can't walk past a bed of growing vegetables without picking out old leaves or finding and throwing a snail as far as she can.
Despite aches, pains, excessive weight and an exposed patch of skin on the top of my head, I am more of the farm labourer, and I am to be found building raised beds (due to a lack of any real skill, everything I make tends to be over-engineered to the point of nuclear bunker-grade construction), fruit trellises and fencing - as well as digging, shovelling (pickup loads of soil and composted manure, mostly), raking, forking (after all, you can't beat a good midday fork) and generally making myself useful.
The project is far from complete. There is a chicken coop to be built (although please don't tell anyone as we're not really supposed to have one) as soon as we have figured out a way to remove the aged hot tub without inflicting serious injuries upon ourselves. There is fencing and landscaping to be revamped at the rear of the property (that will be expensive because even with the best intentions, I don't think I have the expertise to do that properly) and one side of our growing area needs to be properly graded and retained for some decent soil depth. It's the annoying stuff that we need to finish, and this year will see the majority of the work completed.
Amid all this, I am waiting for the cold hand of authority to land upon our shoulders, although I doubt that it will. I have lost count of the number of stories and media articles I have seen about people who grow food in their front gardens and have been issued violation orders etc. from their municipal authorities for doing so. It's a world gone mad when people can be prosecuted and be ordered to turn their gardens over, for having the temerity to grow food plants in the front garden. It almost sounds like a Monty Python script, but sadly it is a real issue.
Here in North America in particular, it seems that a significant number of municipalities have either in the past or in response to complaints, decided that food gardens are too unsightly an abomination to be seen by passers-by. Food plants grown in the front yard of residential houses, are, incredibly, unbelievably, unimaginably, unlawful in some jurisdictions. Even magnificently (and to my eyes, rather disturbingly) regimented beds of perfectly trimmed plants are deemed unacceptable. Some people have even had their gardens effectively bulldozed by the municipality in response to their defiance of such insane legislation.
It seems to me to be total madness. Even here, in a quiet corner of calm, tolerant Canada, we have been warned to be wary of unhappy neighbours (although we have, happily, had not one complaint) lest their delicate sensibilities be outraged by the sight of non flower-bearing (ornamental flowers of course) greenery!
In all honesty, while I am absolutely outraged by the principle that growing food is not allowed in some townships, I find it hard to keep a straight face when talking about this, simply because the whole idea is so laughable! It's a world gone mad in which private citizens cannot grow food on their own property.
While I understand at an intellectual level why such rules have been enacted, I cannot disagree more strongly with the utterly warped logic behind requiring everyone to put down lawn and/or ornamental plants and banning plants from which we can obtain nourishment. This, do not ever forget, is a world where enormous amounts of food crops are lawfully grown by huge corporations in order to be turned into fuel for cars and trucks while on the other side of the globe, millions starve. The backwardness of such behaviour is hard to adequately express without being tempted to use lots of profanities. I find the banning of food plants immoral, unethical, and pathetic.
To those people who are somehow offended by food plants in front gardens (HOW? HOW does someone become offended by our cabbages, our zucchini, our onions and carrots?) I will say this: where does your food come from? Do you know whether your fresh vegetables are really fresh or have they been stored; have they been sprayed with chemicals to keep them looking fresh and insect-free? How can you know as much about the food you put on your plates as we do about ours? You can't. And as for the visual appeal of ornamental plants versus food plants, how is it possible to enforce one person's aesthetic tastes over another? Food plants are neither obscene, offensive or environmentally inappropriate. They are just plants.
You get out of a garden more than you put into it; taste, texture, knowledge of where my food came from and what had gone into it is worth so much more to me than the convenience of having everything pre-washed and packaged. And as for convenience; we still have super-tasty root vegetables in the ground awaiting harvest, even in January/February.
Why would we not be doing this? Why would anyone object?