Adam Guerrero and three kids from his neighborhood, Jovantae, Jarvis, and Shaquielle, hardly seem like lawbreakers as they turn over soil at Guerrero's Nutbush home.
But the city's code enforcement department has deemed their urban garden a nuisance, and a judge has ordered them to remove the small ecosystem they've been working on for the last two years.
According to the court summons, Guerrero, a math teacher at Raleigh-Egypt High School, was cited for violating city ordinances 48-38 and 48-87: He failed to "remove personal property" that is "unsightly" or a "nuisance," and he failed to maintain "a clean and sanitary condition free from any accumulation of rubbish or garbage."
Shelby County Environmental Court judge Larry Potter upheld the citation, ordering Guerrero to get rid of the "debris and personal property" stored outside his home and trim overgrown vegetation — including cutting down his 7-foot-tall sunflower plants.
"He said it's considered a neighborhood nuisance," says Guerrero, who is a member of the GrowMemphis board. "I asked him to define nuisance for me, and he said basically if it generates a complaint, it's a neighborhood nuisance."