Here’s my latest news flash.
I live in a modest subdivision in Northwest Raleigh (annexed five years ago into the city limits). Last year, inspired by the politics of food as well as my love of fresh, unpoisoned vegetables, I cleared about 800 square feet of useless grass and “decorative” landscaping, as well as two large stumps, in the front yard. My back yard is almost completely shaded by mature oaks and faces Northeast, making it less than ideal for sun exposure. That’s why I used the front. I terrraced one particularly bad runoff section of ex-lawn, hand tilled it with shovel and hoe, abutted it with stones, and mulched it to high heaven. The former “landscaped” section I sectioned off into meandering beds with mulched walkways between them. I planted some veggies last year, and we had very good luck all summer with the basics: cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, and some herbs.
Not a word was said by anyone.
Now let me backpedal for a minute here to several years ago, when the rental cops (from Wackenhut) who patrolled the neighborhood before we were annexed knocked on my door at 1 AM and told me to get my (mixed race) boys out of bed to make sure they were there. I told the rent-a-cop to kiss my ass, and that he had a lot of goddamned nerve waking me up for some bullshit like this. He persisted that “someone” (I spied a blonde women in her mini-van down the street watching us closely) had reported an incident of vandalism in the (then almost all-white) neighborhood, and that he was told to check on the “light-skinned boys” at my address (The rent-a-cop was Black, fer cryin’ out lous, but he was just doin’ his job, eh?). I reiterated that he was on my porch without my permission, and that he was to leave and expect to hear about this tomorrow from his bosses and possibly a lawyer.
Once the lawyer talk started, we received abject and repeated apologies from Wackenhut, but the management agency for the HOA would not come off the name of the racist shit that suggeste my kids were scratching up cars three blocks away.
For the record, the HOA is Harrington Grove Homeonwners Association.
Anyway, life overtook us, and we let it go. Since then, even with city police operating here now, a new rent-a-cop agency has been hired; but no one is knocking on my door any more.
This winter, I prepared the soil carefully, adding great mounds of organic compost, lime, and bone meal. When Spring rolled in, I planted spinach, radishes, turnips, carrots, sugar snaps, bush beans, and kale. I also interspersed flowers in the ground and in pots, and the parsley, oregano, rosemary, and thyme had all survived winter on their own (and flowered this year). it looked very good, and people who walked past commented to that effect.
Another aside: I drive a very beat up old Chevy Prism, on which – aside from rust – I also have bumper stickers suggesting the impeachment of the president and calling for an end to the war in Iraq. These are mixed in with a bunch of military crap (master parachutist badge, combat infantry badge, combat medical badge, Special Forces crest, Ranger tab, a “Vietnam Veteran” sticker, a “US Army Retired” sticker, and my MSG chevron) to create cognitvie dissonance. Finally, there is a sticker of Crazy Horse, withe the text: Homeland Security, Fighting Terrorism Since 1492. Oh year, also an American flag that is overwritten with One Nation, Under Surveillance.
Anyway, today I received a two letters in one envelope, dated June 14 and June 29, from Charleston Management Corporation, who handles the dirty work for the HOA. the June 29 letter told me I’d been warned in the June 14 letter (which I first received in the same envelope today) that vegetable gardens are not allowed in front yards here.
My garden is just starting to produce tomatoes, and my okra, cucumbers, squash (and all that summery stuff) is just beginning. Also cantaloupes, and I’m still getting turnips, carrots, and kale like mad.
I have until July 14th to remove my vegetable garden. I checked the architectural and landscaping standards, and sure enough, no veggies allowed… also no herbs. But I have a legal question. Does that mean that nothing edible can be grown? I mean, rosemary is used all over here as a hedge. How does one legally determine what is decorative and what is edible, and that ne’er the twain shall meet?
Any legal advice is welcome.
The other thing the restrictive covenent prohibits is clotheslines. This is an energy conservation issue, no?
Long story short, I have to haul away the piled up brush I was using for bird habitat alongside the house; and now I have to hide my compost heap. But I really really really don’t want to uproot my food.
This HOA was successfully sued in 1999 for trying to levy fines on someone. But the text of their bullshit legal document says the can foreclose for violations.
Please send this to anyone who knows about htis stuff, and post comments here, so others who are facing the same crap can see what’s up.