Thursday, April 16, 2009

I'm sorry, San Antonio Heights, but your reaction to Mary Petit is crappy

Our family has hosted exchange students over the years, and our German exchange student told us of the garden that her family maintains on a tract of land back in Germany.

While this is a natural thing for Europeans to do, and used to be a natural thing to do here in the United States, our continued moves toward antiseptic urbanization make even gardening a controversial issue.

Don't believe me? Look at the story of Mary Petit of San Antonio Heights (north of Upland, California), who only wanted to start a garden. The Daily Bulletin explains:

Petit's community garden is intended to be used by local gardeners and families to grow vegetables, herbs and edible flowers to be donated to families in need.

You'd think that this would bring the community together as they learned something and helped others, but it didn't:

"In my wildest dreams I never expected this type of reaction," Petit said. "I certainly expected questions and concerns and would have addressed them all or at least attempted to address them all."

The residents spoke at Monday evening's City Council meeting, citing concerns about possible increases in wildlife, people, traffic and noise from construction on the property.

Why did the neighbors raise such a big stink about the project? Well, because of the big stink:

The smell of recently dumped manure on the land was mentioned by every resident who spoke.

More here.

OK, I'll be the first to admit that manure isn't the most pleasant smell in the world (especially when concentrated), and when the wind blows toward the north, from the Chino dairy preserve to Ontario, I don't necessarily jump for joy.

But has our society reached the stage where natural animal smells are deemed to be offensive? Apparently that's the case in Upland:

In response, the council agreed to send city officials to the site at 7 a.m. Tuesday to prevent the project from moving forward.

However, I'm forced to admit that this wasn't just a simple little garden patch.

"They put in a big water main and have been doing grading without a grading permit," Mayor John Pomierski said. "You can't do something like that when you have all kinds of people on your property with traffic in and out without a conditional use permit. None of that was applied for."

Still, I hate to think that the official reaction of the city of Upland is that the only place where you can find vegetables is inside buildings such as Vons. What's next - outlawing sports in Upland because of the insurance and safety issues and requiring that sports only be watched on TV?

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