It was finally bee package day, every beekeeper in our region were picking up their bees. For me this was an eventful day with a myriad of obstacles (including the loss of a queen) to install 4 new hives.
(the chaos of bee package day, a work in progress)
(The Fruit Hill Farm Apiary)
After hours of work, I finally took a rest to sit on a bale for a while and proudly gaze upon the apiary. My peaceful respite was suddenly interupted when my husband called from the porch, “Babe we just got a letter from the city…”
My family had been reported to the City Code Officer for 3 Violations:
* Owning a rooster (we never have)
* Owning too many female fowl (guilty)
* Owning too many rabbits (guilty)
I was so angry! How dare the city try to interfere with my family’s vision to provide for ourselves? Why didn’t whoever turned us in not just let us know how they felt, instead of passive aggressively turning us into the city? I felt like at the core, our lifestyle was being threatened.
Eventually I calmed down, and my husband Scott and I started to put together a plan to come into compliance within 14 days as not to face financial penalty.
The importance of staying compliant with codes is always a passionately debated topic among homesteaders, some will argue that the government has no right to rob citizens of the ability to provide for themselves. If enough of us ignore the laws they will loose their potency. “They can’t stop us all!”, is a popular mantra.
Others argue that there is no point in fighting city hall and if we break laws along our homestead journey, then we get what we deserve.
Our family believes that laws and codes that prohibit reasonable homesteading practices are unjust. We should therefore challenge them, yet we must always be willing to face the consequences if we choose to ignore the law. Our family challenges such laws primarily through modeling and educating others on the benefits of ‘suburban farming’.
At Fruit Hill Farm, we believe the suburbs are extremely viable locations for families to establish homesteads. As we look to the future, and the likely challenges society will face, we believe retrofitted suburbs will play an important role in the response to a changing world. In the suburbs families can enjoy shared comforts, safety, and the resilience of being surrounded by a proximal community. The average suburban lot (1/5 to 1/2 acre) provides enough space to grow a significant amount of the food for the household.
Being good neighbors is a very important aspect of us sharing our beliefs. Not everyone in the neighborhood is ready for a suburban farm next door, those who reported us felt we were not being good neighbors. We remedied the situation and came under legal compliance, but the mission continues.