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Joe

NFRC: Illegal Goats and Garden Mutinies. May I rant?

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Joined: Dec 14, 2005

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Posted to Thread #17639 at 6:54 pm on Feb 6, 2010

Some of you asked me to let you know how the new job was going. So far, it's been quite an eventful 3 weeks. I'm working part time as Director of Gardens (D.O.G.) for our non-profit community garden group, Long Beach Organic, Inc. (The president is my friend Spencer and they're already calling me Spencer's dog.)

We have one very large garden and five little ones, and we're looking to open more. I thought I'd ease in, compiling mailing lists, ordering mulch, checking out empty lots, etc. My motto is "There is no such thing as a garden emergency."

Except when there is. I was crazy busy last weekend with back to back cooking classes and I went by my own plot at the big garden to pick some herbs, and there I found two grown goats in a makeshift wire pen. My phone rang just then and it was their owner, Steve, explaining that it was an emergency and they needed a temporary home.

Except it wasn't. Steve and his wife had been given notice three months earlier that their goats were in violation of city ordinance and had to be moved. They are both PHD's but their home is a complete clutter of unfinished projects that spills out onto the porch and front yard. They had the goats in a small side yard with a dozen chickens, but even if there were enough room, goats aren't allowed in Long Beach south of a certain street--Anaheim Blvd. (I always wondered why all the carnicerias on that street are on the north side, but I digress.)

So for three months they collected signatures on a petition, but did nothing to find a new home for the animals except hint that they'd be a nice addition to our garden. I made it clear that it was not an option--we're south of Anaheim Blvd. too.

Then they got a $300 ticket. I guess they thought it would be easier to ask forgiveness than permission.

So while I'm kneading bread dough with one hand for class, I'm scrolling through the municipal code with the other and finding all the ways we are in violation. I had to be the bad guy and composed a semi-threatening email demanding removal within 24 hours.

Can you imagine the havoc a grown goat could wreak if she got loose in a community garden?

So the goats were grudgingly moved and tempers calmed and I turn my attention to one of the smaller gardens, which has been managed for years by the same two guys who do a great job, but don't really like the rest of the organization. They were quite put out when I got hired--not sure why. I sent them a conciliatory note about working together, and I requested their database and some other information, and heard nothing for a couple days.

Then, boom, they sent the entire board a notice of secession. It seems they went behind our back to the elderly property owner and got her to sign a lease in their name, even though we have a rental agreement with her (for $1) and have been paying utilities and insurance for years. When Spencer contacted the owner she was very confused. She thought she had been simply renewing. We need to speak to her agent on Monday to see where we stand but this may come down to lawyers, locksmiths, and marshals. Meanwhile these guys are collecting money without a business license, non-profit status, or insurance. And it is such a nice little garden--a real oasis on a city lot, and I had been friendly with the mutineers--they've been guests at our garden and in my home several times.

So another weekend shot on another garden emergency, even though I don't believe they exist! At the moment I hate people and I hate gardens.

And I really hate goats.

On a brighter note, I'm on the verge of landing another property--I've already found another landowner willing to give us a five-year lease for a dollar--not an easy feat.

We'll see what next week brings...


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