Gardeners in Maine scored a huge victory against HOAs and corporations that want to restrict what they can grow in their own yards.
In 2021, Maine amended its state constitution to assert that residents have a “right to food,” Modern Farmer reported. The law, which is the first of its kind in the U.S., specifies that all people “have a natural, inherent, and unalienable right to food, including the right to save and exchange seeds and the right to grow, raise, harvest, produce, and consume the food of their own choosing for their own nourishment, sustenance, bodily health, and well-being.”
While the amendment clarifies that individuals can’t get their food through crimes like theft, trespassing, or poaching, it does place powerful protections on a homeowner’s right to grow produce — a move that could make some HOAs and agricultural corporations very unhappy.
“Garden growing is an issue with all HOAs. I’m glad a state dealt with that nonsense,” said one Reddit user about the change.
Many homeowners trying to grow flowers and food have run into HOA restrictions that require them to maintain a costly lawn instead or place limits on the number and type of planters they may use. Sometimes, enforcement is arbitrary and inconsistent, like when this Reddit user’s mother was asked to remove wooden planters.
But homeowners have successfully pushed back and even gotten legal protection for their activities, like this Maryland couple who changed state law to protect the wildflowers they were growing. It may take months or even years of court proceedings, but homeowners can win.
Large farming corporations are another opponent for some gardeners. Modern Farmer reports that some have backed legal initiatives to ban saving seeds from food crops — forcing growers to buy seeds from the company instead. But Maine’s law specifically protects the right to save seeds, putting power back in the hands of homeowners and smaller farmers.
State residents now have the right to grow healthy food in their own yards and save money on buying produce. This move will also reduce air pollution caused by shipping food to the state on trucks and trains. According to Modern Farmer, 92% of the food eaten in Maine crosses state lines. Protecting the right to grow food will lead to more local food production and reduce shipping needs.
“Wish this was the same in California,” said one commenter, prompting another user to reply, “California already has it as a law that the HOA can’t interfere with vegetable gardens, if they are in your backyard.”
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