The Tri-Cities

Petersburg farmer cuts down garden after battle with city

PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) -- A farmer in Petersburg destroyed part of his garden after city officials said it broke city code. 

The farmer, Paul Meyer, told 8News his garden would provide locally grown food for residents.

Meyer had to cut down flowers because he couldn't afford to apply for a permit for his garden. 

The City of Petersburg claimed the plants get in the way of drivers and people walking in the area, but Meyer believes it's an example of how urban farmers across the country struggle to provide food in cities. 

"If there aren't people like me, you don't eat," said Meyer. "That's very clear." 

Meyer spends tons of time tending to his garden. 

"Going to be doing crops of tomatoes and pepper plants, basil," Meyer explained. 

Just a small taste of food Meyer sells to the city. 

"For the last year, year and a half, I sold to restaurants here. But I also, I started it first because it'd be something aesthetic," Meyer told 8News. 

Not everybody in the community is on board.

"I just got this notice right here," Meyer said. 

Meyer produced his own video showing a notice he received from the city stating his plants in front of his home were too tall. The flowers are located in a right of way, which requires a permit. 

"The only alternative was to pay the application fee and pay for the pretty much the plants that were under two feet," Meyer explained. "That would have been $100 application fee, plus the $10 a linear foot. It would have been around like least eight hundred dollars, nine hundred dollars."

The news leaves Meyer's with only one choice: tearing his garden down.

"I'm in the food desert and I can't plant food," Meyer said. 

Meyer said this experience is not limited to just Petersburg, as many cities have ordinances in place for this type of thing. 

"I'm hoping to change maybe right of way laws," Meyer admitted. 

8News reached out to a Petersburg spokesperson who said Meyer had the option to apply for a permit to plant in the right of way and was given the opportunity to replant flowers on his property. 

Meyer chose to cut them down. 

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