BABYLON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A battle is brewing over a church yard on Long Island where the grass is gone and vegetables are now sprouting, but neighbors are growing upset over the view and the smell, reports CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff.

Suburbanites love their lawns, but something else is coming up green at one Belmont Avenue home in West Babylon: Lettuce, peppers and herbs.

“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 Christ Episcopal Church of Babylon.

The something is this mini-farm surrounding the rectory of church.

Nesmith, the rector who lives here, says it’s needed to stock food pantries for struggling families.

It is a trend taking root – turning useless grass into something more – what non-profit Wild Republic co-founder Adam Mick calls “Paradise.”

“I think what we are providing, its like an back-to-Eden experience,” he said.

But for some, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

“The smell is horrible, I can’t open my side windows, and would you want to buy my house next to that?” said one neighbor whose complaints promted a visit from Babylon town officials.

“One guy came on Tuesday and said this has got to get out of here,” Jim Adams, another co-founder of Wild Republic. “They’re coming on Thursday to bulldoze it.”

Town officials say they haven’t threatened to remove the entire project, but the farm violates town code for residentail property.

According to the town leaders, while they “support the admirable intentions of this project,” the excessive conditions have led to “serious public safety and fire concerns.”

Other worries include potential roddent infestation and two-foot-deep wood chips could easily ignite – claims the farms say it untrue, as the wood chips absorb rain water.

The town is offering them other property to farm, but Nesmith insists as church property she has the right to use this land for its ministry, and growing food for the needy is God’s work.

A spokesman for the town of Babylon says it’s feasable the land can continue to be used to grow vegtables, if it is brought into compliance with town codes.


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