Searching for greens brings asparagus envy

Prairie Notebook

It’s hunting season again in the area.

This search doesn’t involve guns or even licenses. But it does come with some emotional attachments.

Asparagus, it seems, can be very territorial.

The green stalks that are typically shooting up in road ditches this time of year, presumably free for the picking, have drawn the attention of the county commission, the Moody County State’s Attorney and perhaps even Attorney General Marty Jackley, who may or may not have been too busy running for his party’s nomination for governor to have time to take a call about asparagus.

At least two commissioners and the legal officials all got phone calls recently.

The “legal” question from a citizen in the northwest area of the county was if a landowner plants asparagus in a ditch, because that’s where it grows the best you see, would that mean that others could pick that asparagus, too? Who has the right to a crop in a public right of way?

Do we have to share our ditches?

States Attorney Paul Lewis, who also is the legal adviser to the county, took a stab at the answer at last week’s Moody County Commission meeting by declaring a lack of jurisdiction in the matter because the asparagus in question is believed to be in a township ditch – not a county ditch.

There are different rules apparently, but they all kind of end up the same when it comes to asparagus. In a broad-brush summary, the rules of ownership of a township road ditch, or county for that matter, really don’t apply to vegetation such as asparagus. While a farmer might seek a permit to bale grass in a ditch, there really isn’t any state ordinances for asparagus.

Asparagus is indeed likely free to anyone who picks it.

“I wouldn’t fight anybody over asparagus,” Lewis said. “Rhubarb maybe.”

There are some practical reasons hording asparagus in the ditch along your own property might be a tough task. You would probably need a game camera to document, for evidence sake, who is pilfering your plants. And then there’s the matter of what happens if such a case would go before a Moody County judge in the third-floor chambers at the courthouse.

“I have no idea who’s going to steal your asparagus. Then when we go upstairs, what is said value of the asparagus?” Lewis asked in full-mode sarcasm and humor, referring to a far-fetched asparagus court case.

Lewis isn’t sure about the official Attorney General opinion on asparagus ownership rights, even though he was told that the state office got a phone call from a Moody County citizen.

“I haven’t had the chance to talk to Marty Jackley about asparagus this week,” Lewis said.

Some issues just aren’t as important as others, it seems.

“It’s not rhubarb. I don’t care,” he said.







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