GOOD

In Florida, it was illegal to have a vegetable garden in your front lawn. This couple fought back and won.

Photo by Stella de Smit on Unsplash

There was once a time in Florida where you could park your boat in your front lawn, but you were SOL if you wanted to grow squash and lettuce there. However, thanks to one Miami Shores couple, that's about to change.

Hermine Ricketts and Tom Carroll had been growing a front yard garden for 17 years, but in 2013, Miami Shores changed its city ordinance, making the activity illegal. The new city ordinance said that backyard vegetable gardens were a-OK, but Ricketts and Carroll couldn't keep a garden in their backyard because it didn't get enough sun. So the couple could either dig up their garden or face $50 in daily fines for letting it continue to grow. The couple opted to do neither and instead, they sued the city.

Ricketts and Carroll took their case to the Florida Supreme Court. Initially, the courts sided with Miami Shores, but the fight wasn't over. Florida State Senator Rob Bradley introduced legislation preventing "a county or municipality from regulating vegetable gardens on residential properties." Earlier this year, the Senate passed the bill 35-5.


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Senator Bradley recognized the shift in the way people are eating, specifically when it comes to organic foods."What we've seen over the last several years is a movement to locally source food to have food be more organic and be more natural and not have to be subject to so many preserves and chemicals so that it travels across the country," he said during the bill's second reading. "Instead, it can be in your backyard to be eaten."

Keeping a vegetable garden is a way to combat foot deserts. Now residents are more empowered to grow their own food, thus fighting against potential food shortages. "The world is changing when it comes to food. There's a big interest when it comes to locally sourced food or organic products," Senator Bradley said.

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"It is our role, our duty, to review decisions that are made in the courts that uphold local government actions that violate property rights in the State of Florida ... When you own a piece of property, you should be able to grow food on that property for your family's consumption," he added.

As Ari Bargill, the lawyer who represented Ricketts and Carroll, puts it, "I look forward to the day where no Floridian would worry about crippling fines for the offense of growing cabbage." So let those cabbages grow, Florida!

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