His neighbors call it “Cabbagegate.” And it cost Steve Miller a lot of green. The Clarkston, Ga., man was fined $5,200 for growing too many vegetables in his backyard.

Miller had been growing legumes for 15 years, selling them at local farmers markets and giving them away to friends, before he was cited by the Dekalb County Code Enforcement office for the first time last September. It’s illegal to garden at such a level in the zone where he lives. Miller tried to challenge the penalty, but a reprieve was slow in coming, and the fight’s not over.

“Time went on, but no answers, then I get a letter in the mail with more fines,” he told AOL News. “Didn’t get an answer back from the county until I started getting notices from code enforcement in October, and before I knew it I got a subpoena to go to court.”

After a long legal battle, Miller successfully rezoned his land. But despite that victory, the county is still fining him for all of his illicit vegetables, and even for hiring workers to weed the fallow land after he stopped working it.

Miller runs a relatively large operation for a backyard gardener — about one and a quarter acres in production with crops like celery, tomatoes, lettuce, Swiss chard, beets, cilantro, carrots and, of course, cabbage. He peddles his harvests at farmers markets, but doesn’t always turn a profit. And it’s far from his main occupation. Miller is a landscaper by trade.

“It’s not my source of income, it’s my passion,” he said. “If it were my main source of income, I’d have to sell my house.”

http://www.aolnews.com/2010/09/15/cabbagegate-ga-man-fined-5k-for-home-garden/

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