A New York church planted a large garden in order to feed the needy, but complaints from neighbors to town officials have put the entire project in jeopardy, WCBS-TV reported.
Christ Episcopal Church in Babylon Village, New York, is in a battle with town officials to protect a 2,500-square-foot garden, created in concert with the nonprofit Wild Republic.
"I've been looking at this sterile monoculture of a lawn and I knew we needed to do something with this," said Mother Clare Nesmith of the church.
What's the story?
The church wanted to make better use of its lawn, believing that providing food for the needy outweighed the usefulness of simply having grass out front.
For the past few months, the church has worked with The Wild Republic to create a garden using mulch and compost layered 24-to-30 inches high.
Neighbors have complained about the appearance and the smell, however, leading to citations from the town.
"The smell is horrible, I can't open my side windows, and would you want to buy my house next to that?" one neighbor said to WCBS.
Another neighbor, Glen Scalise, told Newsday that the project was "not a garden, it's a farm," and called it a "misuse of the land."
What did the town ask?
According to a town spokesman, the garden is a fire hazard due to the amount of mulch. Town officials have told the church to reduce the mulch to a maximum of six inches high, but the church has refused to comply, saying that will destroy the concept of the garden.
The church has until Thursday to comply with the town's orders, or the town will send workers to grade the land, according to Newsday.
"I want to keep talking to the town, but I want them to return the favor," Nesmith said. "I want them to listen instead of just pushing."