This week, House Bill 853 was introduced in the General Assembly. It states: "No county, municipality, consolidated government, or local government authority shall prohibit or require any permit for the growing or raising of food crops or chickens or rabbits in home gardens, coops, or pens on private residential property so long as such food crops or animals or the products thereof are used for human consumption by the occupant of such property and members of his or her household and not for commercial purposes."
The United States Constitution as well as the Georgia Constitution list the rights of citizens. Among the rights listed are the right of personal security, personal liberty, and the right of private property. The definition of 'personal security' is 'The legal and uninterrupted enjoyment by a man of his life, his body, his health and his reputation'.
Furthermore, the definition of 'private property' is 'The tangible and intangible things owned by individuals'. Dr. Mark Cooray says, "Personal liberty means not only freedom from unlawful physical restraint or harm, but also freedom from arbitrary interference with one's privacy and lawful belongings." Local governments should not have the ability to strip us of these rights as they do when local zoning ordinances ban us from the Right to Grow.
For a number of reasons, people are returning to their agrarian roots and growing their own food. Some people are doing it because they want to feed their families healthy food.
Some people are concerned about genetically altered or virally tainted food. Some people are affected by the harsh economic times. Some people are doing it just because they want the feeling of accomplishment. Whatever the reasons,
The Sustainable Food Movement is moving thru this country stronger than ever. However, some local municipalities are not happy about this.
Creative gardening techniques can clash with neighbor's landscaping ideals. Some people think that chickens and goats cannot be pets but are signs of lower social status and poverty.
Forsyth County has deemed honeybees ‘livestock' and banned them from backyards. Marietta says you have to have five acres for a chicken that the Georgia Cooperative Extension Service says only needs around 4 square feet.
NIMBY people like these are more concerned about "What about the property value of the neighborhood?" than the people that live in the neighborhood. They would rather ban such activities outright, lest take a chance that a few people could violate local nuisance or health laws.
This is akin to outlawing dogs because some people cannot keep their dog on a leash or keep it from defecating in their neighbor's lawn. If we outlawed banks, we would reduce the number of bank robberies.
But we are not talking about dogs or banks; we are talking about people's inalienable rights, which among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
This is a victory for the thousands of people in Georgia that have had their constitutional rights stripped away in the name of progress. However, this is only the first step. This bill is in committee and needs our support to move it along.
Please contact your Legislators and the members of the Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee and tell them that you want your rights back! There is a website set up to help in this cause: www.gafoodrights.org.