In the Dekalb County, Georgia town of Clarkston which is near Atlanta, Steve Miller has been growing vegetables for fifteen years. He takes some of his harvest to farmers’ markets and sells it, and gives produce away too. Sound innocent and harmless? Not in Dekalb County. This past January, code enforcement officers gave Mr. Miller a citation for growing “too many crops” and having unpermitted employees.
According to an article in CREATIVE LOAFING, the code enforcement officer states that Mr. Miller can’t have a vegetable farm. The author of the article researched Dekalb County’s codes and made several calls to district Commissioner Burell Ellis’s office. The closest Mr. Miller comes to violating county codes is the use of land in a residential area for commercial gain. In other words, the problem is that he sells some of the produce, not the fact that he grows it. Even the Dekalb County Office of Planning and Development states the law is vague and is there to prevent large commercial operations from locating in residential areas.
After the visit from Dekalb County Code Enforcement, Mr. Miller stopped growing his vegetables while he got his property rezoned. While the rezoning request was pending, the county put Mr. Miller’s case on hold. The rezoning was approved. No problem, right? Wrong! After the rezoning, Dekalb County is persisting and is moving forward to prosecute Mr. Miller. Their excuse? He broke the rules earlier. So, the county’s reasoning is that when a citizen is put on notice that something he is doing is against the law, that person stops the activity, takes the necessary steps to come into compliance, then gets prosecuted for what he was doing BEFORE he knew what he was doing was wrong? Dekalb County’s Code Enforcement Office must have former Congress members or Obama administration employees working there. This is the kind of thing one would expect from Washington.
Alice Rolls, who is the Executive Director of GEORGIA ORGANICS, predicts more cases like this as vegetable gardening makes a comeback in urban areas. What she is expecting is local governments to try to stop people from trying to survive in the times in which we are living. It’s amazing to me that back yard gardens may be found to be illegal. Common sense is certainly not governing here. People who are trying to eat healthy but can’t afford to pay $2.00 each for bell peppers, $1.50 each for tomatoes, and so on may be systematically criminalized.
Personally, I believe the real issue here is that it is the private production of food. Over the past few years, the government has been attacking food co-ops. Examples (all have clickable links to the sources):
December 1, 2008: JOHN and JACQUELINE STOWERS of LaGrange, Ohio, raided by the local Sheriff’s Department, the Lorain County Health Department, and the Ohio Department of Agriculture because they operated an organic food co-op, the Manna Storehouse. Officers confiscated over $10,000 worth of food, and even took the Stowers’ food that was not part of the co-op that was there for the family’s consumption. The raid was conducted just like the drug raids you see on television. Officers held the family, the Stowers’ son, and grandchildren, some toddlers, at gun point for over six hours while their home was searched.
February 11, 2009: Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted a pre-dawn raid on ANGEL FOOD MINISTRIES, which sells food to needy families for about half the normal retail cost through churches, and took boxes of records. The question was about the salaries the founders and other amily members were taking from the charity. The founder, his wife, and two sons earned over $500,000 each. (SOURCE 1 SOURCE 2) The question I have is this: why hasn’t the FBI investigated charities like the United Way CEO, Gloria King, who was getting paid $380,000 salary as of November of 2009 and a $2.1 million retirement package, or the CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society, Steven Sanderson, at $938,000, according to a CBSNEWS.COM article, RECESSION-PROOF JOB? NON-PROFIT CEO.
February 4, 2010, Kinzers, Pennsylvania: U. S. Food and Drug Administration agents enter the property of an Amish family, Dan Allgyer. They entered his property without permission disregarding “No Trespassing” signs. Agents Joshua Shafer and Deborah Haney claimed Mr. Allgyer was selling milk to the public. Mr. Allgyer stated his was a private farm and he did not sell milk to the public. The agents reasoning? “Well, you have cows. You cannot be consuming all the milk you produce.” Mr. Allgyer called his attorney, and his attorney asked him to have the agents call him. They refused, not once, but around six times. The agents then went to a neighboring property and watched Mr. Allgyer’s activities, surveillance style. A visitor there left and the agents followed the visitor about fifty miles. The visitor finally called 9-1-1 and reported someone had been following him. The highway patrol pulled the agents over and the visitor, Ivan, pulled over too. The agents told the state troopers they were conducting an investigation and were following Ivan because they suspected he had a load off the farm in the back of his truck and they wanted samples. Ivan’s truck was empty. The agents proceeded to record information on a piece of paper. When Ivan questioned why they were taking down information without cause, the agents’ response was they had cause, the fact Ivan just so-happened to be there at the farm and he just so-happened to leave. That clears it up for me. (SOURCE) (SOURCE)
Additonal note: Federal agents are still at it with Mr. Allgyer. April 2010, two USDA agents, two U. S. Marshalls, and a State Trooper, arrived at 5:00 a. m. to inspect his cow-milking facility and served him with a notice the next day that he was engaging in the interstate sale of raw milk. Mr. Allgyer was threatened with “seizure of an injunction” if Mr. Allgyer didn’t play the government’s game (SOURCE) (SOURCE)
June 30, 2010: Rawesome Foods in Venice, California, an organic food store, was raided by police with guns drawn to confiscate . . . cartons of raw goat and cow milk, unpasteurized goat cheese, and other grocery items Al-Qaeda terrorists could use against us. (Los Angeles Times, RAW FOOD RAID HIGHLIGHTS A HUNGER) Don’t believe it? Here’s the video from one of Rawesome Foods’ security cameras.
Need I go on? This latest attack on private food supplies in Dekalb County is in line with the Federal government’s objections to private citizens having any kind of private food supplies and the absolute atrocity of helping people without government programs or control.
If border security were pursued this vigorously, there would be no illegals coming in to the U.S. If I lived in Dekalb County, I think I would send their Code Enforcement office pictures of me . . . plowing.