Just picture it now – you’ve got a secret room in your basement full of hydroponics, timers and lights. Suddenly the swat team busts down the door and carts you away. The crime? Growing vegetables.

We’re not there yet, but it’s getting closer. A gardener Dekalb County, Ga. is now facing charges for growing “too many” vegetables in his garden, which wasn’t zoned for market gardening.

This story is getting a lot of press, but it’s not in any way unusual. Here are a number of stories from people I know in Hamilton:

-One woman, a single mother living in subsidized co-op housing on the mountain was told off for attempting to grow vegetables in the garden area in front of her house. Apparently only ornamental plants are allowed.

– Another friend of mine was cultivating a big patch of local edible wild plants in his backyard. A neighbour complained, and City bylaw enforcement started writing tickets, even after being repeatedly confronted with the fact that none of the “weeds” in question were on the city’s “lists”. In some cases, I’ve been told, a weed is “anything over 4 inches”.

– The City of Hamilton threatened for a year or two to close the “Paradise Garden”, a community garden at Wellington and Burlington, because it wished to use it to store museum goods which weren’t on display. They then went on to create new gardens in much better off parts of downtown like Victoria Park.

-The City, in an attempt to be “greener”, offered homeowners freely planted trees of their choice. The problem? They didn’t offer any fruit trees.

These are just examples I’ve heard about personally. Who knows how many happen on a regular basis between here and Dekalb. They aren’t isolate incidents – they just don’t get a lot of press.

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