Is it Legal to Grow Your Own Food?

Believe it or not, but it may actually be illegal to grow your own food. At least, this has been the experience for numerous urban farmers across the country. While the names of the cities and towns may change, the stories are pretty similar. Every year in America, there seems to be a new story of urban gardeners cited for illegally growing food in their own yards or on vacant lots.

Stop Your Gardening

One case in 2013 that took headlines nationwide involved a Miami Shores Village, Florida couple who was told that their front yard vegetable garden, which they had grown and cared for over the past 17 years, was prohibited under new zoning codes. The law banned front-lawn vegetable gardens and forced the couple to dig up their plants or face a $50-per-day fine. The conflict between local zoning laws, which place aesthetic concerns over homeowner and renters’ rights, is becoming more commonplace across America. As more and more people grow their food, the conflicts will likely continue.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Growing Your Own Food

There are likely four main reasons why people want to grow their own food:

  • Home economics: You can save more and spend less on food by growing it in your yard;

  • Health concerns: If you are growing your own food, you know exactly what is being used and what is not to keep pests away;

  • Flavorful food: Many people find home-grown fruits and vegetables taste better than some items sold at the supermarket;

  • Family time: Home gardening can become a family activity for children and adults, teaching valuable lessons about the environment and sustainability.

That being said, there are risks involved. These may include:

  • local zoning laws and ordinances prohibiting growing food (like the story above);

  • Building costs and development standards, such as set backs, that may hinder your garden plan;

  • Private property rules such as covenants, conditions, and restrictions, or even easements that prohibit urban gardening; and

  • Attractive nuisances, which makes you liable for any harm a child trespasser may suffer on your property as a result of his or her attraction to the garden.

Nevada’s Cottage Kitchens

While some people just want to grow their own food for consumption, others want to grow food to sell or even prepare food to sell to consumers. In 2013, Nevada’s state legislature passed the Cottage Food Bill which the governor signed into law. The bill allows certain foods to be prepared and sold from a person’s home. According to Nevada law, a cottage food operation is when person who manufactures or prepares food items in a non-food establishment setting for sale directly to an end consumer. The law prohibits gross sales from a cottage food operation to be over $35,000.

Your Legal Questions Answered

If you or someone you know has more questions about urban gardening or any other legal issue in Nevada, contact the skilled Las Vegas personal injury attorneys at Parry & Pfau today. We represent clients across the state and are available to explain your rights and obligations under applicable laws for your particular situation.

(image courtesy of Markus Spiske)