Falcon Heights temporarily bans front yard vegetable gardens

It comes after a resident launched an effort to open a community garden.
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The City of Falcon Heights has imposed a temporary ban on front yard vegetable planting after efforts by a local resident to create a community vegetable garden for the summer.

Quentin Nguyen was shocked last week when a letter arrived advising him that the city council had passed a temporary ordinance prohibiting vegetable gardens from being placed in front yards of residential homes.

Nguyen had launched his effort to create a community vegetable garden on the front yard of his family home earlier this year, creating a GoFundMe page in which he said the idea was to have "neighbors/gardeners pitch in some work together to grow vegetables for some healthy food during our Minnesota summer."

It comes amid a renewed interest in planting and growing vegetables, given gardening has been one of the few outdoor activities permitted during the COVID-19 shutdown.

But shortly after he announced his effort, Falcon Heights City Council proposed an interim ordinance banning the cultivation of gardens on front lawns, with this first appearing in a public agenda on May 1. The ordinance passed at a virtual meeting on Wednesday, May 13.

The move clarified a previous ordinance passed by the council that loosened the city's front lawn restrictions so that native plants and pollinators could be planted in front yards, but which didn't mention vegetable gardens.

The interim ordinance only allows for "gardens as an auxiliary space in a rear or side yard for a property owner's personal use," and not for use as a community garden.

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Nguyen told BMTN: "I was planning to plant vegetables and fruits (like tomatoes) etc to share/give away to other neighbors/gardeners because I have a huge wasteful front yard of turf grass used for nothing and so I could have fresh produce for my mom.

“If any neighbors could help or join and share the vegetables then that would be great too, but it was mainly all on me . I found out about the new ordinance after I received the letter from the city on Friday May 15 . I feel that the new interim ordinance is 100 percent targeting me and on me only.”

In a statement to BMTN Monday, Falcon Heights said that the intent of the interim ordinance is to "complete an in-depth and thoughtful process to study changes needed to city code for the potential expansion of gardens."

"With recent interest in home gardens attributed to COVID-19 the City needs to address how our zoning ordinances and codes could or should be changed to meet community needs," the statement said.

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