Urban garden that grosses $2,500 must buy permit for ‘several thousand dollars’

Oakland gardener questions need for permit to sell produce

Novella Carpenter's 4,500-hundred square foot plot grosses $2,500 a year.

Matthai Kuruvila
San Francisco Chronicle

The permit would probably cost several thousand dollars, a city planner said, and the farmer also would have to pay penalties for operating without such a license as she is now. Carpenter takes in only about $2,500 a year, before expenses, writes Matthai Kuruvila.

Novella Carpenter took over a vacant lot on a hardscrabble corner of West Oakland eight years ago and turned it into a working farm of vegetables, goats, rabbits and, sometimes, pigs. Carpenter milked goats, made cheese and ate much of the produce. She also wrote a popular book, “Farm City,” about the experience and became an icon of the Bay Area’s urban farming movement.

But the future of her Ghost Town Farm is in question. This week, Oakland officials suggested it may need to close. The reason: She sells excess produce and needs a costly permit to do so.

“It seems ridiculous,” said Carpenter, 38. “I need a conditional use permit to sell chard?”

Read full post at San Francisco Chronicle

13 responses to “Urban garden that grosses $2,500 must buy permit for ‘several thousand dollars’

  1. How many recall the experience of Steve Miller of Atlanta, GA last fall? He grew a garden on his 2.5 acre plot at his home. A bureaucrat cited and fined ($1000) him for growing a garden ‘too big for his needs’. And that was prior to the passage of S. 501, aka, ‘food safety bill’. Steve is yet in litigation for much more than the fine. This man was merely exercising his first and fourth amendment rights.
    Can you imagine this harvest time when the FSA (Food Safety Agents) troll through your neighborhoods? I don’t know the actual number of the garden goons who will police our towns, but 60,000 seems to stick in my mind. That is the reason to coerce our local authorities to replicate. Even if this egregious regime can enlist 6 million thugs to enforce its ukase, where will we go? FEMA camps? Will we lose what is left of our assets –home, truck, savings, our lives if we resist? This is the reason we must coerce our towns and cities to mimic Sedgwick, ME.
    awl, speaker of PILMOA
    acts11agabus@comcast.net

  2. Maybe you should consider giving produce away and posting a sign,
    Please Donate what you can afford and what you feel this fresh produce is worth to you.

    As Albert noted, it is far past time for American Citizens to ‘Take back our Country’ from over paid, under worked, power grabbing state, county and city bureaucrats!

  3. Suzann Fulford

    Albert and Pobept said it all. If anyone sets foot in my garden I’ll throw rotten tomatoes at them.
    Love your site Rady~

  4. Pingback: The Progressive Mind » Urban garden that grosses $2,500 must buy permit for ‘several thousand dollars’ | Food Freedom

  5. grandpappymike

    I saw a video about Novella that was made while she was still a squatter. She didn’t seem to be someone with much material wealth. It’s good to see there are fine, highly paid government bureaucrats to kick people back down who are trying to improve their station in life. If she would only realize the government will provide for her needs, they know what’s best for her and everyone else also.

  6. I’m afraid it’s worse than just government beaurocrats going “by the book. Remember, always, that the government agencies which are enforcing these “safety laws” are populated, at the highest levels, by revolving-door representatives of the industries they are supposed to regulate – in the case of FDA, USDA, etc, that means big agribiz. An explosive family-farming movement is a threat to them. The government will not have to hire 6 million “goons” to enforce the codes: big agribiz will have their citizen shills file the necessary complaints. Indeed, local governments need to counter these regs wherever they can. It’s going to be a tough fight. The take-away message for me is to remember: Whenever you feel tempted to complain about “The Government”, remember that it’s really the industries which control the government that need to be addressed.
    There is a bumper sticker out there which says, “The FDA exists not to protect the consumer, but to protect big agribiz from the rigors of the free market”. Too many words for a proper bumpter sticker, but right on target.
    Small corporations and family businesses are the best friend of a capitalist democracy. Big business is it’s worst enemy, and even Adam Smith (“The Wealth of Nations”) recogized this in the pre-industrial revolution days of 1778.
    Fight for publicly funded elections.

  7. I appreciate your positive comments to mine, but what are your plans? We need more than cuddly words and lip service. GROW A GARDEN AND DEFEND IT OR DIE! Hmm. Is there a Patrick Henry to defend the freedom of oleracea, legumes, and spuds?
    awl
    AWL

  8. She has the option to sue and needs to not take this as growing up on her part. Growing up would be getting it how totalitarian the law is and working with all the sustainable ag groups there to force it to be repealed.

  9. Keep growing, and since she said donations in the body of this article, she could make the case that she doesn’t ASK for a set price, but lets others donate. Then she needs to get everyone who visits her farm to band together and either change that stupid ass law, or change the city board! What nonsense. I agree with above, GROW YOUR GARDEN AND DEFEND IT OR DIE.

  10. Pingback: Permaculture ends meat-vegan debate, promotes anarchy | COTO Report

  11. Pingback: Permaculture ends meat-vegan debate, promotes anarchy « Only Ed

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