Backyard flower farmer's persistence leads to passage of 'Food and Flowers Freedom Act'

Monday, March 26, 2012 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: flowers, freedom, backyard

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(NaturalNews) A glitch in the local zoning code ended up causing Tara Kolla of Silver Lake, Calif., to have to abandon her passion for growing pesticide-free, "beyond organic" flowers in her backyard for several years. But the Los Angeles Times reports that, thanks to her hard work and persistence, Kolla was able to help pass the Food and Flowers Freedom Act, which has reinstated her and her neighbors' freedom to grow whatever produce they choose and sell it off-site.

It all began when Kolla's lawyer neighbor, who had reportedly had a previous run-in with her, filed a complaint with the City of Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety about the fact that she had been growing flowers in her yard and selling them at farmers markets and other locations. Local zoning ordinances at the time only permitted backyard growers to plant vegetables for outside sale, not flowers or fruit, which meant Kolla was technically in violation of the provisions.

Kolla had originally purchased her Silver Lake property with the intention of growing clean, chemical-free flowers and selling them locally as a way to help earn her living. But this all ended at the peak of her 2009 harvest when the city ordered her to immediately cease selling the flowers. Consequently, she was forced to give away the flowers that had already been produced and stop cultivating the rest.

"I've come a long way, and it cost me much in the journey," said Kolla to the Los Angeles Times. "Most people don't realize that commercial flowers are covered in pesticides. There are many local farmers doing an amazing job of growing food organically but very few growing flowers."

The city's cease-and-desist order against Kolla was not enough to suppress her freedom, however. Over the next several years, Kolla's friends and allies in the local community helped her form an alliance known as Urban Farming Advocates, which was able to get help from City Council member Eric Garcetti in crafting legislation that would expand the scope of backyard farming to include all sorts of things besides just vegetables.

"I authored the Food and Flowers Freedom Act to promote local growing by simply filling in a gap in our city laws, which addressed the growing of vegetables but not other items commonly sold at our local farmers markets," said Garcetti. These other items include berries, flowers, fruits, grains, herbs, mushrooms, nuts, ornamental plants, and seedlings.

To learn more about Tara Kolla's work, check out her Silver Lake Farms webpage at:

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