< Back to front page Text size +

Newton gardener must pick new home for hanging tomatoes

Posted by Deidre Fernandes  May 31, 2012 02:13 PM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Yoon S. Byun/Globe Staff
Eli Katzoff and his girlfriend Melissa Hoffman with the hanging tomato garden outside his Newton home last month.

Eli Katzoff must figure out a new home for his hanging tomato garden, by Friday.

Newton city officials have offered Katzoff three potential sites on public property for his garden, along with a deadline to remove the A-frame, 13-foot-tall, structure from his front yard.

“We’re optimistic that it can be resolved in an amicable manner,” said Bob Rooney, Newton’s chief operating officer. “We’re not trying to tamp him down. We’re trying to let him experiment.”

But the experiment cannot continue in the front yard of his parents’ home near Route 9, Newton officials have informed Katzoff. Newton bans such accessory structures in front yards.

Newton has also sent a violation notice to Katzoff, citing him for constructing a wood frame structure without a permit and for constructing a wood frame structure in the front setback, Rooney said.

Katzoff has made the frame safer by bolting it to the house and now city officials are awaiting his decision on the move, Rooney said.

Katzoff, 26, said he and his girlfriend will have more information early next week about the fate of their tomato garden.

“As of right now we are looking into various options, some suggested by the city of Newton and some we are investigating," Katzoff said in an e-mail Thursday.

Katzoff built the wood-beam structure to support his 34 hanging tomato plant containers. He has sold many of the pots to friends and neighbors interested in a steady supply of summer tomatoes and plans to donate some of the crop to local charities.

Newton officials took notice of Katzoff’s plans in mid-May when one of his neighbors called the city to inquire about what was being built. A city inspector then told Katzoff that his tomato garden creation ran afoul of the city’s codes.

Last week, the city suggested that Katzoff move his garden to three potential sites, a community garden, a parks and recreation lot or to a portion of a parking lot by a city building. Volunteers with Newton’s Angino Farm have also offered to work with Katzoff, Rooney said.

In an e-mail back to the city earlier this week, Katzoff said he is considering his options though he is concerned that the city sites pose a risk of theft, one is too far away to ensure regular maintenance and others don’t have proper water accessibility.

Rooney said if Katzoff doesn’t find a solution soon, the city will be able to levy fines of $300 a day. By Friday, the city wants him to decide where the tomato garden will go.

Deirdre Fernandes can be reached at

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article