The Garden of Eden really does exist… in Arlington, Texas. It’s a sustainable farm community blending modern technology and green practices, where a small group of people live and grow food in a garden about half the size of a football field. The farm, which was founded by Quinn Eaker, is on 3.5 acres in South Arlington.
The farm has been involved in a code dispute with the city of Arlington since February of this year, trying to find a balance between public safety and private rights. According to the Garden of Eden website, this dispute had been settled, the inhabitants having trimmed grass and bushes per the city’s request. At that time, the city had signed documents agreeing that they would take no further action on those violations. The community of the GOE thought that was the end of it. Turned out that they were sadly mistaken.
On the morning of August 2, police descended upon the small farm. That is about the only thing that everyone agrees on. Police state that they were only on the property for 45 minutes while the GOE claims it was 10 hours. Considering the actions taken by police, the 10-hour estimate sounds more believable. The inhabitants of the GOE were all handcuffed while police searched the property for marijuana. Why? A tip came that the residents were growing marijuana in a spot “surrounded by bamboo,” and aerial surveillance indicated that “the plants inside appeared to be consistent with marijuana.” Whoever examined those photos needs a book on botany: the plants were tomatoes. When he was asked if they were growing pot, Eaker answered no. He thinks that the police just wanted to believe it so badly:
“I think they were hoping that was true. And I think that they made a mistake and I think that they know they made a mistake. They can’t even tell the difference between tomato plants and a marijuana drug cartel; that’s just really bad intel.”
The raid did result in Eaker’s arrest for some old traffic violations and the removal of “debris,” much of which the community members claim is used in their gardening. City code compliance officers also mowed the grass and uprooted plants, including food plants like blackberries and okra. Eaker says that there were “pages and pages” listing everything that was taken, not all of which was “debris.” He wants the items returned along with an apology.
The Garden of Eden is not blameless – they do admit to some code violations but feel that they are inviolate on their own property as to what they do there. They feel that they have been unfairly targeted:
“… the City codes are in violation of our natural and Constitutional rights to live freely while causing damage to no one, and since there is no damaged party, there has been no crime committed on our part. Rather, the City of Arlington has trespassed and committed robbery against us, amongst other crimes, and will be held accountable in a court of law in due time. We have been targeted by the system because we are showing people how to live without it. We are growing more than just tomatoes here, we are growing the consciousness that will allow people to live freely and sustainably, and the system doesn’t want that to be known.”
Living in a rural area myself, I can sympathize with the folks at the Garden of Eden. Anyone with more than a few acres of land usually has a pile of yard clippings, some firewood stacked, perhaps a bit imperfectly, maybe an old tractor… But as long as those don’t present a public safety hazard then it shouldn’t be of concern to anyone but the property owners.
As for gardening, it’s very simple. This is a tomato plant:
And these are marijuana plants:
The Arlington police should keep these pics handy the next time they get a bug up their butt to raid a farm. Both plants are useful, only one is illegal to grow in Texas. The difference between them is something law enforcement should know without needing The Sunset Western Garden Book.