No front yard veggies for Toronto?

Well grown vegetables can be highly ornamental

As Sonia Day writes in the Toronto Star, a Toronto family has been ordered by the City to replace their front yard vegetable garden… with sod. Yep, sod. It’s a bit of a shock, with all this talk of food security.

The garden clashes with a transportation by-law, apparently. If visibility is an issue, why not simply ask them to conform to height restrictions? Many an unkempt hedge cuts off the view of oncoming traffic. So why pick on the veggies?

Ironically, the City of Toronto Public Health website has a long scroll about Food Policy, that mentions urban agriculture and community gardens and is full of words like “spearheaded” and “championed” and “pioneered” in relation to the City’s good works. But this is one of the great divides between the abstractions of policy and the everyday realities of transportation bylaws.

This isn’t the first time the City and a homeowner have conflicted over their interpretation of a garden. Back in 2007, there was an uproar when the City mowed down the 12-year-old natural garden of a past-president of the North American Native Plant Society. Bylaws again. Looks like most of our city bylaws have something to do with transportation.

This all seems appropriate to think about on mayoral election day. Hope you’ll get out there and vote. And when your guy or gal gets elected, be sure to let them know what’s important to you. We can’t blame politicians for the way our city turns out if we don’t play a part in shaping it ourselves.


  1. Sounds like the city needs to get its rubber boots out of its mouth & start using common sense. Glad you are keeping up the dissemination of this story…and that it helps to bring change. Though I do worry about the mayoral choices…

  2. Happy voting day to you ladies too

    this election campaign *shaking my head* i'm embarrassed i live in Toronto…

    also related to our plants:

    LEAF "asked the top three mayoral candidates the following question: Residents of Toronto value the urban forest for the many environmental, social and economic benefits it provides. If elected, what would you do in the next four years to maintain and enhance our urban forest?" answers here:

    crossing my fingers some good will come out this election.

  3. Wow how devistating that would be to have them mow down your native garden!

    Some people are just close minded and think that anything other than yards of useless green grass are beautiful.

  4. You have some strange gardening restrictions in Toronto. I don't get the vege issue with all the hedges and large plantings I have seen. I always looked at Canada as being light years ahead of us in the states on eco issues. This one seems a step back.

  5. Don't you love the idea that grass/turf is "natural" and veggies are not (acc to Mr. T.O. Bureaucrat)? A warning to us all that not everyone is eco-minded these days, for all the green-noise we hear.

  6. Oh, so sorry to hear about Toronto's veto on edible front yards. I'm curious to see what will happen at our home in SC–we're planning to replace a significant portion of our front lawn with an edible garden. And we're going to sneak some chickens into the back yard in the spring. I wonder what our neighborhood association will say?! (Just found your site and look forward to reading more!

  7. Hi, everyone, Thanks for dropping by.

    Despite my perhaps misleading headline, this is a story about one garden, not a citywide ban. Nevertheless, where it can happen once due to an enforced bylaw, it can happen again. So it's something to watch for, and as Gail says try to change.

    What strikes me most about the story is that if there is a bylaw (or more: one governing use of the city-owned strip at the edge of most homes, and one covering visibility for drivers), the enforcement is unfairly biased against vegetable and natural gardens.

    There are many mature hedges planted along the city strip, and in my experience they create far more of a driving hazard than a few tomatoes.

  8. I am currently in the process of completing my fourth year of the Bachelor of Interior Design Program at Sheridan in Oakville. As a part of my final design project and thesis I am focusing my research on urban community gardening.

    More specifically, I am looking at advocating for a policy change that requires the sustainable integration of urban community gardens into the built environment (food, flower and herb gardens) as an extension of Toronto’s Green Roof Bylaw. (I am aiming at existing and new build situations, however I know after speaking with the city that we cannot force urban community gardens on existing buildings by law…YET!)

    Has anyone tried to do this before, such as your organization or one that you know about?

    Overall, I am looking for any supporting information that you could provide, obstacles and concerns related to this type of initiative or any advice you could provide.

    Thank you again for your time- it is very much appreciated,


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