New Zealand can seem like a magical and perplexing place to North Americans. Are there like, hobbits and elves there? (Only sort of.) Do the toilets flush the other way? (No.)
Another thing it’s probably important to clear up: Gardening is not banned in New Zealand.
Sooo.. why are some people either confused about this seemingly obvious fact, or at least pretending to be?
Buzzfeed did some digging (get it?) and found that the myth can be traced back to a Reddit thread starting in 2014, in which Reddit user WhyNotSmeagol asked in the r/NewZealand forum, “Can you have a garden in New Zealand?”
New Zealanders — or Reddit users purporting to be New Zealanders — did not let this golden opportunity slide.
And more recently, people starting using the (real) news that New Zealand is experiencing a surge of avocado thieving as an excuse to start talking about the purported “ban” again, leading to an article on New Zealand pop culture website The Spinoff that sounds totally sincere:
See a larger version of this image here.
Various posts about the ban got so out of control on r/NewZealand that moderators temporarily banned them, but that ticked people off so much that now the posts are back. Apparently, some people were also reporting posts that denied the ban existed as inappropriate.
Not everyone is feeling the laughs, though. “Does anyone else find the whole illegal garden thing unfunny, overplayed and a bit embarrassing?” asked one slightly ashamed Kiwi.
But while many people are deriding gullible foreigners for believing that gardening is actually outlawed, that type of legislation may not be as outlandish as you may think. In 2011, a Michigan woman faced criminal charges for growing a vegetable garden in what her town of Oak Park designated as “front yard space.” The charges were ultimately dropped, but whether or not residents were allowed to garden in their front yards has remained a contentious issue in multiple municipalities across the U.S.