Did you know that a Right to Garden Act has been introduced in the Illinois General Assembly? Yup. The bill numbers are HB 4704 and SB 3329, and the chief sponsors in their respective chambers are State Representative Sonia Harper and State Senator Scott Bennett.
The legislation proclaims that “the right of of a property owner to create and maintain a garden on his or her own residential property … should not be infringed upon by the State or any unit of local government.” These are stirring words, in my opinion.
This legislation was inspired by Nicole Virgil, a suburban mom and avid vegetable gardener who found herself the subject of unwanted attention from local officials. You can read about Nicole’s story here, but I think we are all aware of instances of local ordinances being used to force the Tyranny of Lawns upon aspiring gardeners.
Unfortunately, the legislation does not impact landscaping rules imposed by Home Owners Associations (HOAs), but perhaps that could be the next battle.
Nicole Virgil has spearheaded an impressive grassroots lobbying effort. For example, I noticed that the Right to Garden bills have already picked up more than 20 co-sponsors. These include both Democratic and Republican lawmakers (Illinois has a Democratic super-majority in both chambers) crossing ideological, racial, and geographic lines.
Both bills are currently in committee, but I’ll keep you posted as developments occur.
In the meantime: give me my garden, or give me – well, just give me my garden.