On July 1st, Florida residents were given the thumbs up to grow vegetables in their front yards when SB 82 was passed. The new law allows Floridians to grow front yard vegetable gardens. It might seem like a logical right to grow food on your property, but it was the result of an almost decade-long legal battle that began in Miami Shores.
Fighting for the Right to Grow Vegetables
Miami Shores couple, Tom Carroll and Hermine Ricketts, peacefully grew cabbage, beets, eggplant, along with various herbs that intermingled with other fruits and ornamentals in their front yard because their backyard did not provide enough sunlight for vegetable gardening. Most people would not have even noticed the various vegetables, but the city of Miami Shores took note, forcing the couple to dig up their vegetables or face steep fines of $50 a day.
That’s when the couple hired an attorney to sue the city. Their efforts were stumped in November 2017, when an appeals court upheld that the couple did not have a constitutional right to grow vegetables in their front yard. The couple appealed the ruling, which was declined, and they were forced to dig up their 17-year-old vegetable garden. The fruit trees and ornamentals, however, could stay. Seeing the irony in this, the couple and their lawyer took their case to the Florida Supreme Court.
Big Win for Eco-conscious Movement
Despite some concerns, The Florida Senate passed the reform on July 1st, 2019, forcing all cities to respect Florida homeowner’s property rights. Which includes growing food in front yards. The bill also prohibits local governments from regulating vegetable gardens on a resident’s property. A big win for an increasingly eco-conscious movement of urban gardeners.
Tom and Hermine have since replanted their front yard vegetable garden. Celebrating with a small replanting ceremony. Hermine is just happy to be back in her garden, where she feels the therapeutic benefits of growing her vegetables help her mental health tremendously. She is now able to get back to maintaining her source of sustenance in her retirement, which she claims gives her a tremendous amount of pride and physical health benefits.
This is great news for urban gardeners who may want to prepare vegetables for fall. Now is a great time to start thinking about how you may want to incorporate vegetables into your existing landscape. Perhaps a few eggplant vines next to your bougainvillea or some cabbage to compliment your flower bed. One does not have to have rows of garden beds or raised plots to grow vegetables but thanks to this Miami Shores couple, you now have the right to do so.
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About the Author
Rhiannon Samoyedny is a Florida native. She lives in the Garden Acres subdivision of Oakland Park with her family. Her passion for horticulture started in high school where she took horticulture classes and worked in a garden center after school. Her education continued by self-study and attending many local gardening classes and workshops. Her garden philosophy is to keep it as simple, native and as organic as possible.