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Episode 25 Beargrass Thunder Transcript - The Bluegrass Podcast

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[00:00:01.290] - Elijah

Welcome to the bluegrass podcast. Today we're talking with Jody Dahmer and Dr. Maria Corso about

Bear grass Thunder, their community garden resource and seed bank. A quick show note before we

begin. There is a little bit of a problem recording the first minute. So we jump right into it today.

[00:00:22.850] - Jody

When we wanted to, you know, do the Louisville Seed bank, we wanted to try to make sure that people

that had never grown gardens before had free seeds, and more specifically, seeds that could survive

in downtown neighborhoods. So it's it's really been a lot of fun. And it seems like every year that we

do it, more and more neighborhoods and more and more community partners want to get involved to

help scale it. So it's a lot less work on us as it goes forward because more and more people are


[00:00:57.570] - Elijah

Do you want to just talk about the yard instrument one more time? Because I love that, and I love you

talking about changing the laws to actually be able to do this. Could you talk about that a little more


[00:01:08.950] - Jody

Yeah, sure. So just to backtrack what Bear Grass Thunder is, we are a Kentucky nursery plant nursery

that we specialize in what is called yardens. So being able to grow food or flowers on previously

mowed grassland and before in Louisville, up until March of 2022, for about 90 years, from the 1930s

onward, it was actually illegal in the city of Louisville to grow a garden higher than ten inches tall. And

if you were reported, then you would face a property lien and fines up until you cut your garden down.

And so from the 1930s up until 2022, we've had generations of farmers that have been punished for

trying to grow.

[00:02:08.240] - Jody

Food on the land that they live on.

[00:02:10.320] - Jody

And it was with the county merger in 2003 that meant that that farming restriction applied to any

farmer in the merged Louisville metro government. So any farmer on the periphery of Jefferson

county, that was actually illegal, what they were doing if someone called the code enforcement on

them. So when we started selling plants, we started getting clients that were being fined for the same

plants we were selling. Except in the wealthier areas of town, it was completely fine. But in a shotgun

neighborhood, people would get code enforcement calls, sometimes up to weekly complaints where

the fines would stack up and they would have to pay $500 to keep their house from being sold. So it

really got kind of ludicrous there. And so we decided to start calling all of the metro council people

and write some bluegrass songs. And we sent that to almost every single local politician we could,

and we even made it to the state level. And so the bluegrass song, we called it grassholes. And we

called any politician that didn't want to change that law a grasshole politician. And luckily, in March of

2022, they actually changed the law citywide.

[00:03:33.720] - Jody

So now there's over half a million families that can now legally, for the first time in 90 years, grow

food gardens as well as native plant gardens for the pollinators.

[00:03:45.430] - Elijah

I love that. And what are some of the ways you're looking at this spring now that you've sort of

unlocked the potential of being able to do this in the community? What are some ways you're going to

be getting plants and seeds out?

[00:03:58.510] - Mariah