Food Politics + Justice USDA shuts down 4 year olds garden

Published on August 25th, 2013 | by Becky Striepe

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USDA Shutting Down 4-Year-Old Girl’s Vegetable Garden

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USDA shuts down 4 year olds garden

A South Dakota girl may have to destroy her vegetable patch because of USDA rules.

Seriously, what is with these crackdowns on growing your own food? We’ve seen a couple of folks get fined for growing food: see here and here. This time, instead of a fine USDA Rural Development Agency (RDA) is making a 4-year-old tear out the vegetable garden that she is growing in the subsidized housing development where she and her mom live.

According to the folks at The Healthy Home Economist USDA RDA in South Dakota “forbids residents to have structures of any kind within landscaped areas.” That includes small plots of vegetables, which the girl and her mother were using to supplement their diet. Her mother is severely disabled, and they can’t afford many fresh vegetables on her $682/month disability payment.

To be fair, it’s not like USDA agents descended on this little girl’s garden and ripped it out. The property management at the subsidized living complex say that they are following USDA guidelines. What strikes me about this is that it feels so…cold? Sure, I can see not wanting residents building actual structures. If everyone in an apartment complex decided to build a shed, for example, it could become a safety problem. But we’re not really talking about a structure here. We are talking about growing food. It feels like they could have used a little bit of heart in this decision, doesn’t it?

What You Can Do

There’s a petition going around to save this little girl’s garden. They’re calling her “Rosie,” but that’s a fake name to protect her identity, since she’s a minor. You can also write a letter directly to State Director of USDA RDA in South Dakota, Elsie Meeks, asking her to reexamine this rule. Her email address is elsie.meeks@sd.usda.gov.

Have you run into ordinances that prevent you or someone you know from growing your own food? Tell us your story in the comments!

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Image Credit: photo via petition page



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About the Author

My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. My mission is to make vegan food and crafts accessible to everyone!. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .



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