Often times, Rowes said, his clients are surprised to find themselves pulled into the movement.
Recently, the New York Times profiled several individuals who had planted vegetable gardens in their front yards, only to be confronted by local authorities who were enforcing county or city zoning codes that forbid such actions. One sustainability director in Orlando ascribed these codes to an era when "the aesthetic was more of a formalized thing. Organic, natural planting was out of vogue." Many local officials admit that the codes merely protect the property values of homeowners, rather than having any real public utility.
Admissions like these are what make such issues fodder for public outrage, as many can sympathize with the David versus Goliath archetype that's formed when you see a gardener seemingly bullied by a larger institution.
"Generally what we're looking for in a case is it has to have simple facts," says Rowes. "The fact has to be outrageous. There has to be an evil villain, and there has to be a sympathetic plaintiff."
But perhaps because many who find themselves battling state and local governments aren't seasoned political activists, they haven't always done a spectacular job organizing grassroots opposition, at least not across party lines.
"The one thing that I have not found is a lot of bipartisan cooperation, even though it's a bipartisan issue," Rowes says. So while the Tea Party libertarians and liberal environmentalists may be on the same side, each isn't necessarily aware the other exists.
In some cases, attempts to organize these farmers can be met with resistance. Such has been the case for Mark Baker, a 52-year-old Michigan farmer who has been engaged in a year-long battle with his state's Department of Natural Resources, which recently issued a declaratory ruling placing wild Russian boars on its invasive species list.
For years, Baker has been raising and slaughtering a hybrid breed of Mangalitsa pig -a European breed with a hairy fleece that has been gradually replaced by domestic breeds. Under Michigan law, an animal only has to meet one of nine characteristics to be labeled invasive (including an incredibly vague catch-all: "Other characteristics not currently known to the MDNR that are identified by the scientific community"). As a result authorities informed him last year that the pigs raised on his farm were illegal and must be put down.
What followed was a vituperative legal war in which Baker not only sued the state (the case is still ongoing), but has also appeared before a Michigan state senate committee to argue his cause. But the more immersed the recalcitrant farmer has become in the political process, the more he has distanced himself from both parties.
"They put on the show for the people, but they never really do what the people want—either side," he says.
And so when his story began to spread and various political groups approached him, Baker rebuffed their advances.
"We had the Tea Party wanting to come alongside of us and make us their little darling. I didn't like the spirit of the people I was talking to on the phone. They were going to use our situation and our hardship to prop up whatever their agenda is," says Baker. Similar inquiries from liberal groups were also rejected.
Not all relationships between these small, local farmers and government agencies are entirely antagonistic, however.
Amy Stewart, one of the writers for Garden Rant, a group blog of "highly opinionated gardeners," says while many horticulturists get frustrated with the red tape that has accumulated over the past decade, they also maintain a symbiotic rapport with government scientists and researchers.