The Potluck

Resident calls for Falcon Heights council member to resign over front yard gardens

By: - June 25, 2020 11:43 am

Quentin Nguyen stands in front of his Falcon Heights home where he hoped to plant a community vegetable garden until the city banned them in front yards. Photo by Max Nesterak/Minnesota Reformer.

The fight over a Falcon Heights vegetable garden continues. 

A month ago, Quentin Nguyen had resigned himself to living with a Falcon Heights ordinance that seemed designed to stop him — and just him — from planting a big vegetable garden in his front yard. But now, he’s calling on a Falcon Heights City Council member to resign over the garden, er, controversy.

Nguyen recently took to social media to demand Melanie Leehy’s resignation, accusing her of making false statements about him in a recent Minnesota Daily story about the council’s one-year ban on growing vegetables and herbs in front yards.

Leehy told the Daily Nguyen should have consulted with city hall rather than going to the media. 

“When things go in the media without people contacting city hall to do things in a healthy way, they are making it difficult on themselves when instead they could have gone to city hall and had a conversation,” Leehy told the Daily.

But Nguyen says that’s not true. He said he did exactly what she suggested he should have done: Gone to city hall and had a conversation. 

Nguyen says he’d read about the state encouraging people to make their lawns pollinator-friendly, but Falcon Heights used to ban plants over 10 inches tall. So he went to city hall and talked to an employee about it.

But he still intended to plant vegetables, framed by native flowers. He says he spent about $500 to buy native plants, which he recently planted before they died in the pots. But he didn’t plant vegetables, given the council’s action.

“I’m under a lot of stress now,” he said. “It’s so stupid.” 

Leehy also said Nguyen’s garden would be considered a commercial garden requiring city approval, but Nguyen has said he never planned a commercial garden, but an informal community garden or “victory garden” like those that sprang up during world wars. 

“They used the community term against me,” he said. 

Two weeks ago, Leehy emailed Nguyen saying she’d like to come out to his garden with a neighbor, but he ignored her request because she ignored his invitation before the May council meeting. 

Leehy denied his allegations, saying she’ll talk to any resident about anything and approach them with kindness, as she expects in return.

“I want the best for Quentin,” she said.

 Nguyen, unmoved, wants her to quit. 

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Deena Winter
Deena Winter

Deena Winter has covered local and state government in four states over the past three decades, with stints at the Bismarck Tribune in North Dakota, as a correspondent for the Denver Post, city hall reporter in Lincoln, Nebraska, and regional editor for Southwest News in the western Minneapolis suburbs.