Comments

Please Help Jessica Hudson of Sweet Peas Farm in MI — 211 Comments

  1. My wife and I fully support this cause. Thanks, Jack, for bringing it to our attention. We donated to the legal defense fund, and wrote to all the council members. We live in Michigan too, and this fight is near and dear to us as we raise rabbits, chickens and ducks on our small acreage property, as well as garden. We will likely require all the fruits of this property to carry us through the tough times ahead. Shame on these petty bureaucracies and their ‘Agenda 21’ mentality. I believe the right to support yourself on your own land is a God given one.

    Good luck to Jessica in her fight. Thank all the rest of you for supporting her too.

  2. She couldn’t afford $500 for a rezoning permit? If she truly has her neighbors support, this is usually no big woop. Launching a kickstarter for 20K to hire lawyers before trying an easier avenue doesn’t seem wise. Something else is not right here, just look at the the photo of this address on google street view. It is different from what is described. 1.5 acres seems way too small for 5 animals and a chicken shed. She clearly did not do enough research and buy enough land. I feel bad that she was under pressure and bought her “dream home” right next to a cemetery. It appears that she was hoping to raise livestock and then pretend that they were just pets because they were miniature breeds. Although I don’t agree with this situation, I appreciate that it was presented as an example of what not to do.

    • i could be wrong, but as i understand i she was initially told she needed $500, and then that was reneged on and removed from the table, which is why she has to go the legal route.

  3. Donation sent. Email sent;

    ***************************

    Williamstown Township Officials and Trustees,

    I have just made a donation to the Sweet Peas Legal defense fund. I will continue to do so as needed because a fight for liberty anywhere is a fight for liberty everywhere. Raising food is not a crime. Please do the right thing.

    Respectfully,

    -markl32

  4. “$500 for a rezoning permit” My experience with townships in MI is that the $500 is the application fee, you application may or may not be approved. While I don’t know for sure this true in this case…..

    • That makes sense. I went to remodel a basement in my old home in OR. I paid $250 to apply for the license. They looked at my plans and told me I couldn’t remodel because I needed to insulate the floor with R30 or put R30 under the house. There was some green law passed by the county two years before I went to do my remodel. If I used foam, I figured raising the floor would give me 7′ 2″ ceiling, which also was not allowed, nor desirable. They never gave me the money back, and the plans never went to the inspector just the desk lady. The lady basically informed me this is why a lot of people don’t remodel (WTF). Anyways I ended up moving and selling the house with an unfinished daylight basement that puts a cold space under the main living floor. Hows that for being green 🙂

  5. Donation sent, following email sent, modified Jack’s template to suit my situation. I’m looking forward to seeing this particular situation corrected.

    To the Members of the Williams Township Government Offices,

    I have been made aware of the situation with Jessica Hudson and SweetPea Farms regarding your threats to sue her to remove her animals from her property. Based on my understanding of the situation, I have several concerns that have prompted me to write you today.

    1. If I had never had a bureaucrat give me incorrect information, I might be suspect about her asking and receiving information that having animals was perfectly okay. However, I have been given incorrect, misleading or outright false information so many times that I’m not the least bit surprised that even in a small township, your own people can’t keep up with the truth. That said, a representative of your organization gave out information that affected her purchase of property. Based on that, if there is any possibility of corroborating that information, your township might actually be liable in court for giving false information leading to damages to the Hudson family. You might say that corroboration is impossible, I would point to numerous cases of investigative journalism that have brought down many powerful people and organizations. You just never know who might have a video or recording of one of your township employees telling someone else the exact thing that Ms. Hudson was told.

    2. The case of the Buchler Family in Marquette County established in Michigan that if you are engaged in anything commercial in nature (meaning you sell something, anything, such as eggs or rabbits, or intend to do so, as is evident from signage or internet ads) that by Michigan law you are protected by the Right-to-Farm Act, which supersedes local zoning ordinances. This is a recent case almost identical to your situation with the Hudson family, so clearly you are simply ignoring the state law of Michigan. While I understand that the trappings of power sometimes cloud the mind, please step back for a moment, and think about how you would feel if the Hudson’s were your parents, or children, and another township was treating them the way you are treating the Hudson’s.

    3. My understanding is that the direct neighbors have no issue with the small number of animals on SweetPea Farm. This makes your actions seem to malicious, choosing to just fight rather than work on a solution. You come across as a bully, Goliath vs. David, and you know that, all other things being equal, juries side with David against Goliath. You could easily grant a variance to the Hudson’s that would expire if and when they sell the land if you’re worried about “what could happen down the road.”

    I have decided to join many other people who have a similar dream to return to an America where property rights are supreme, as long as I am not harming my neighbor with something that I do on my property, it is none of their business, or yours, whether or not I have a goat, chicken, or pot belly pig. I do not live in Michigan, in fact, I would never consider living in Michigan. That hasn’t stopped me in the age of the internet, from learning of your arrogance, and choosing to put my money where my mouth is. I have contributed to the Hudson Family Legal Defense Fund in order to help them fight for their Constitutional and civil right to use their property as they see fit. I will, along with as many other people as I can convince to fight this fight, and there are hundreds that I alone can contact through personal interaction and social media, will contribute more money and time to this fight if need be.

    I am a career veteran, I have contacts all over the United States, people who were willing to lay down their lives to support the Constitution, giving money to fight for the Constitution is an afterthought. We have seen this type of thing before, we have acted before. I want to inform you that we are not very familiar with what it feels like to lose a fight, because we don’t fight when the rewards aren’t worth the effort. If you choose to fight, perhaps when it is over you can inform us of how it feels to lose. Neither the Constitution or Michigan state law are on your side, when you beat your head against a wall, the wall doesn’t care, and you just get a head ache.

    Please consider another alternative. Given that you are likely to lose this fight, and end up on the hook for her legal fees, simply comply with your own state law. Rather than oppress this family, work with them and their neighbors for an amicable solution that doesn’t cost anyone anything, or fight them, and rest assured I will join the thousands of others who are watching, and willing to support this family and block the Williamstown Township Council’s attempt to violate their rights.

    Again we have done this before and we will do it again. This is a movement that will not go away. People have the right in what is supposed to be “the freest nation in the world” to grow their own food and own a few animals, especially in rural or semi-rural environments, on reasonably sized properties, as is clearly the case here.

    I hope that you will choose a common sense approach and resolve this issue in the best interest of your community (which I must remind you includes the Hudson family). However, if you choose to fight, rest assured the problem and the fight will not go away, there are thousands more of us than citizens in your township, you will likely bankrupt your community, and your legacy will be one of failure and loss.

    Respectfully Submitted
    XXXXXXX
    Veteran US Armed Forces
    Citizen Augusta, GA, USA

    • Thanks Herb,
      Seems to me that some legal eagle out there could figure out a way of making these petty little tyrants personally and individually liable for their malfeasance and mistreatment of citizens.
      If they made decisions with the fear in the back of their minds that they might be personally financially liable for messing with someone’s life just because they can, they’d choose to be more respectful.

      Any thoughts, folks?

  6. Glad you picked up this story. I had been stewing about it blowing a gasket to hubby on what can we do to help. Poof there you were! There are so many stories like this. Ugh I just want to smack someone. This one really struck a cord because I too had kids with food problems. It is pure hell to watch your children suffer crying in pain and there is nothing you can do about it. You feel so helpless. You do what you can you search everywhere for an answer. It is exhausting & beyond stressful to say the least. This courageous strong woman did her research she found a better way. She uprooted her family and busted her butt to create a new life a better healthier life. She was not asking for a hand out she took charge of herself and family. Now these *&^(%%$)(&&** want to come in and destroy that. OH HELL NO!!! I am so glad that the TSP is behind this. Once again I am proud to be apart of this community you guys ROCK!

  7. Tired to go to her website to donate via the blog link above, but I get a screen saying the user has exceeded the monthly bandwidth. Jack, is she accepting paypal, what is her email, or is there another method?

  8. Also, when I went back to her site to get more info I noticed her Bandwidth Limit was reached and the site is blocked for now. Recommend putting the paypal address on your site.

  9. Nix that – the site is up again.

    Donations have been made and emails have been sent.

    I truly cannot wait to hear what happens. I find the local government to be extremely lacking in morals and commonsense. We have a family trying to do the right thing and they are trying to take it away from them.

    The only word that comes to mind is reprehensible!

  10. Donation made. Here’s my e-mail:

    To the Supervisor, Clerk, Treasurer, and Trustees of Williams Township,

    I am writing you to let you know I support Jessica Hudson and her family. According to Ms. Hudson she was informed not once, but twice by Williams Township officials that what she planned to do was legal and permissible on the property she intended to purchase. Now you are breaking your word to her and attempting to negate her time, money, and effort spent in trying to provide for her family. This is despicable. The Michigan Right To Farm Act and the case of Buchler family in Marquette County indicate to me that you will lose this battle in a court of law. To assist Ms. Hudson, I have donated to her legal defense fund and will donate additional money, if needed, to ensure you learn the limits of your power.

    A fight for freedom anywhere is a fight for freedom everywhere.

    Respectfully,

    inconel 710
    A Concerned Citizen in Colorado

  11. Emails sent and donation made.

    Not on our watch!

    Thanks for rallying the troops on this Jack.

    Jessica, WE STAND WITH YOU.

  12. As a real estate broker for about 30 years and living and selling in rural areas, I have had lots of contact with townships and their attorneys. FIRST, nearly all townships hire attorneys NOT living or practicing in rural areas. MOST are ignorant of the Michigan Right to Farm Act. I did have a client that was in middle of selling their horse farm when it was discovered that the local township had enacted very strict ordinances because one of the local vets’ wife THOUGHT she might like to have summer horseback riding camps. Without reading or famililarizing themselves with Michigan law, the township council wrote and the township board approved the new ordinance. My clients and the buyer went in together and hired one of the largest law firms in Michigan to go up against the township. The attorney they sent was no more informed than the township attorney. Because I personally have Farm Bureau insurance, I was able to arm ourside with very detailed information to give to the buyer and sellers’ attorney. The township changed their ordinance back to what it had been. So, I would highly recommend calling Farm Bureau insurance company and ask them for a list of attorneys who are VERY familiar with the right to farm law. More than likely this will prove that you don’t need much money for defence. Cheap attorney or expensive attorney, if they don’t know the Michigan Right to Farm law inside and out, you’re just wasting time and money. You don’t go to a family practice doctor for brain surgery, you hire a specialist. Same goes for attorneys. When dealing with a local authority, ALSO get a copy of their “master plan” and zoning maps.

  13. I live in Neighboring Wisconsin and I will fight these bureaucrats tooth and nail. We have the FDA in concert with the county Sheriff raiding raw milk farms with weapons drawn arresting farmers for selling REAL milk. This has to stop. Thanks for spreading the story, I am going to make a small donation.

    God bless everyone

  14. We bought three acres to farm two years ago. It took us 6 months to find a place. Part of the hunt was to know ALL the restrictions for zoning in ALL the different sectors, of which there are six. They are all slightly different, so when we were researching a house and land, the very first thing we looked at was “how is it zoned?” We also contacted the provincial government to ensure that any size restrictions on farming and animals were completely understood. For example, a farm can get Farm Status with $2500 of sales per year, gross. BUT you must use a full two acres for that farming. Since layer chickens only count as 1/4 acre, selling only eggs cannot get you farm status, even though we could hit $2500 easy with only layers. Having horses doesn’t count as a farm activity, unless you are actively breeding and selling the colts. Having farm status makes a big difference in taxes !!!
    I memorized these codes, all six sets, and just so no municipality could change them on me, determined that buying in the provincial Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) was the smartest way to go, in terms of staving off any neighbour complaints. We also have Right to Farm legislation, but possibly not as clear as Michigan’s is said to be (by judges). I have a neighbour who might object to me running pigs near his fenceline (he’s a transplanted urbanite with a manicured front lawn) but since he moved to the ALR because he wanted to breed yappy little white dogs which I don’t complain about, I figure he shouldn’t complain about my smelly pigs.

    We have some restrictions in terms of what we can build for additional houses, but we knew that when we went into it. We read the codes, directly, and asked questions if something was unclear. Ignorance of the law is not an excuse.

    • Surely some responsibility rests with the Hudson’s real estate lawyer as part of due diligence. Mrs. Hudson did get 2 verbal confirmations from the Township, who are either ignorant of the State of Michigan’s Right to Farm law, or are deliberately flouting it.

  15. Sent my donation off today. Plus I sent an email to Mickey Martin letting her know I was a “friend of Jack Spirko”

  16. Email sent:

    Williams Township Officials,
    I am writing in hopes that one of you might be able to explain your views on stewardship to me. I am also offering you an opportunity that most elected officials would love to have (you can skip to the end for that bit). I am part of a community that supports a local Williams family, the Hudsons, in their ongoing fight against you in defense of their rights protected by your state. The Hudson’s, as I’m sure you were aware or have been reminded by now, have a very small farming operation within your jurisdiction. According to your local zoning regulations, this activity isn’t allowed on the Hudson’s land. However, the Michigan state legislature has explicitly preempted your authority to make such a prohibition against someone engaged in commercial farming activities via the Right to Farm Act.

    I recognize that interpreting the details of law can be confusing for the layman – that’s what attorneys are for, after all. However, attorneys can be expensive and should not be used unnecessarily when there are other options that are a smaller impact on your local tax base. I submit that Judge Solka in Marquette County has, via the attached opinion, clearly written down the pertinent points regarding your state legislature’s intent to protect farmers, described the limits of your authority to infringe upon those farmers, and given an all-around easy-to-read write up that a non-lawyer can understand. I recognize that Judge Solka is from way up in the U-P and might not have anything as interesting to do with his time as those further south. However, I would also suggest that your Township might benefit from behavior more similar to that displayed by Judge Solka than your peers even further south in Detroit.

    If you can find the time, give the attached a quick read. If you would like a lesson in telling the future, substitute “Williams” for “Forsyth”, “Hudson” for “Buchler”, and “rabbit” for “sheep”. You will be able to accurately predict the outcome of your efforts against the Hudson family. What more could a politician ask for than the ability to predict the future?

    To my original question, can one of you explain how your actions are in keeping with stewardship of your constituents’ concerns? You are going to waste money paying an attorney to argue a case that you should be able to comprehend, perhaps pay for the Hudsons’ defense costs too, and end up making fools of yourselves. How does that make sense?

    Finally, I would like to point out that I am from Mississippi. Due to stereotypes we are not often accused of being forward-thinking or even being that well-educated. We certainly do enough silly things to make the stereotypes partially true – all myth is based in some part in fact. Even a poor Mississippi farmer who never made it out of grade school can look at this issue and see the path to justice. Don’t be stupider than Mississippi.

    Good luck,

  17. Jack,
    Sorry I have been on the run swamped with having a huge trade show in Daytona Beach this week. I took liberty of copy and paste your email, as I agree with you 100%, then I send it off to everyone in Township that you listed. My wife and I have also made a donation to Jessica’s family cause. We do support them in this fight. Thank you for giving us heads up and opportunity to help our fellow family.
    Leszek and Chelsea “Cookie” Stachyra

  18. The National Ag Law Center has compiled info on all 50 states’ right to farm legislation:
    http://nationalaglawcenter.org/assets/righttofarm/

    Again, Mississippi comes through. If you have something going on for a year with no suit filed, that is an “absolute defense to the nuisance action”. So that means any suburban farming just has to last a year without complaint and then there’s nothing your neighbors can do. More importantly, there is nothing a new “neighbor” who shows up or invades an HOA can do about something you’ve had going on more than a year.

  19. I don’t think it’s abusing your position if you back more situations like the Buchler family is dealing with.

    I say go on the offense and sue on grounds of discrimination. Use the Americans with disabilities, approach.

  20. Just sent $50 her way. It occurred to me that there’s a corollary to your phrase “A fight for liberty somewhere is a fight for liberty everywhere”, namely “An oppression of liberty somewhere is an oppression of liberty everywhere”

  21. I am a small farm and just getting started.. The interpretation of laws in all levels of government regarding what you can and can’t do, in terms of housing, help and what you can sell or make money through farming on land.. or even to get ag exemption or homestead exemption is a maze to say the least.

    Without an insider with knowledge and even with it there will be difficult times.

    We support this community and encouarge all to support this family.

    Donation sent and email sent as well.

    Keep looking for worthy fights.

  22. Rights depend on both the reasonable exercise of those rights, and the reasonable regulation of those rights, and we have courts and juries to determine what is “reasonable” when it comes to that. Part of the process of determining what is “reasonable” is determining the importance of the right, or the importance of the regulation of that right.

    It is one thing to exercise your right to make noise, or music for you own pleasure, and quite another to exercise your right to grow food on your own property to feed your children, and to sell to your neighbors to support your family.

    Making noise or loud music is not a vital right, but growing food for consumption or sale is a vital right.

    A further elaboration of this matter of rights, is to look at each activity, or regulation through the lenses of the National Interest. For example how could it be in the National Interest, or the Public Interest to allow people to have the right to drive vehicles with loud mufflers or play loud music that disturbs their neighbors?

    Conversely, how could it not be in the National Interest to allow people to raise live stock unfettered to add their own, and the nation’s, food supply and to sell the food they have raised to their neighbors?

    • To clarify: My comment is tongue-in-cheek. Sadly, it seems that government, whether local or national, sides with those who have money, rather than the individuals who are morally correct.

  23. i see she has pigs, does anyone else think they might be picking on her specifically because of all the small pork farm persecution that has been going on in Michigan lately? all these town officials have been bought and paid for by the large pork factory farms.

  24. Local government squelching food self-sufficiency extends to Canada, too! Listen to Episode 1027 from November 26, 2012, where Jack discusses how we had to relinquish 2 ducks in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (around 33:39 minutes of the podcast). Just an update: We are trying to find a jurisdiction in Southern Ontario that will allow us to have a permaculture micro-farm and still tend to a frail, elderly relative who requires a hospital nearby. We’ve already encountered a problem with the Municipality of Trent Hills. Its By-law Enforcement Officer told us today that ducks are “exotic pets” that would violate By-law 1998-06 The Keeping of Certain Animals. We asked for a boundary map indicating areas where ducks are permissible/illegal, so we can be near to our sick relative, and yet operate a micro-farm within the law. The officer did not provide us with a map or even vague directions. We are now enquiring about the Municipality’s variance procedure and its rationale for why the Province of Ontario’s Farming and Food Production Protection Act of 1998 does not trump the local by-law. Looks like we may need to appeal to the provincial government or Agriculture Canada. Watch this space.

  25. I copied the following from Sweet Peas Farm Facebook post and am posting here on behalf of Jessica. They are not out of the woods yet and it seems that it is going to trial.

    Here it is. The call for HELP!

    In order to finalize the last steps to solidifying our tentative approval for MAEAP Verification, before going to trial on June 19th, we need just a few things. MAEAP verification is crucial, as it proves without a shadow of a doubt that we are in compliance with GAAMPs procedures, showing we are having no detrimental effect on our environment.

    In order to do this we need about $800. We sent every penny collected previously to the attys and I am currently very literally penniless. You all said if we ever needed anything more to just ask. This is it.

    In addition, next weekend we need some manpower. A bunch of locals have offered to pull some weight when we needed it, and, again, this is it! We’ll be working all next weekend and will need plenty of help. We would gladly accept it on any day from tomorrow until the 16th, however, if your schedule does not permit working next weekend, and you’d like to help. I’ve got almost nothing going on, as this is priority one!

    For obvious reasons I’m not giving a lot of details on FB. However, if you’d like to contact me individually to ask more questions before donating, showing up next weekend, etc, please feel free. However, please do so through email or by the contact form on the website, rather than through FB messaging. I’m trying to keep everything off of FB until our day in court has passed! There are a lot of underhanded people out there, and I’m continuously surprised by them. I don’t know how some people can sleep at night…

    Again, donations may be made here: http://sweetpeasfarm.webs.com/apps/donations/
    Emails can be sent here: SweetPeasFarmAndRabbitry@gmail.com

    Please spread the word! Share this far and wide. It will all be over in one fell swoop in just a couple of weeks, and we need to be as strong as possible until then, with our community behind us and our ducks in a row.