No urban farming allowed in Muskegon, Michigan
A Muskegon Police officer showed up at their door and handed Joshua a ticket for the goats that they keep in the yard behind their house
By John Amrhein
August 11, 2013
The story begins 3 years ago when Joshua and Anna decided to move to the city of Muskegon (38,000 residents) because they thought it would be friendly to urban farming. They bought a house at a tax sale and have since been able to acquire several other vacant city lots and are working to establish soil fertility and grow more vegetables every year. After a recent decision to move a local farmers market out of their neighborhood and into downtown Muskegon, Joshua and Anna decided it was time to set up a farm market, to give residents of their neighborhood more options for purchasing fresh local food.
Joshua applied for a business license for the farm market, as required by city regulations, but initially got no response to his application. After contacting the city’s zoning department, he was told his application had been denied. Why? Because no one was allowed to grow vegetables to sell inside the city of Muskegon. How could this be, Joshua wondered, when several community gardens in his neighborhood were selling their produce at the city’s farmer’s market?
It only got worse for the EldenBrady’s last month when a Muskegon Police officer showed up at their door and handed Joshua a ticket for the goats that they keep in the yard behind their house. What law were they accused of breaking? The officer wouldn’t say. Joshua was later told that he was accused of violating the city animal ordinance. The ordinance states that livestock are allowed as long as certain conditions are met, but no one will tell him which part of the ordinance he is accused of breaking. A 2nd citation for the goats was issued a week later.