The most delicious vegetables are the ones you grow yourself, as many have come to realize during the pandemic. But some cities and counties have restrictions that prevent people from gardening at home. In one Midwestern town, a temporary greenhouse has ended up on the wrong side of the law, revealing a value system that is distinctly regressive.
Nicole and Dan Virgil, who live in Elmhurst, a suburb of Chicago, are dedicated vegetable gardeners. By the summer of 2015, they had maxed out their 2,000-square-foot backyard with raised beds and were relying on them for much of their family’s produce. They had branched out from simply growing the typical salad ingredients to cultivating potatoes, fennel, leeks, and tomatillos. In late August, the plants were still going full-bore, and the Virgils wondered how they could extend the Midwestern growing season. (In this climate zone, seedlings go into the ground on Mother’s Day and peter out in October.)