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Florida Couple Forced to Dig Up 17-Year Old Organic Garden

Elizabeth Renter
December 19th, 2013
Updated 05/07/2014 at 12:25 pm
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frontyardgarden 263x174 Florida Couple Forced to Dig Up 17 Year Old Organic GardenWhen we’ve lost the right to grow our own food, we’ve truly become subjects of the state. Lately it seems we’ve been hearing of more and more people being forced to dismantle their vegetable gardens in order to appease city ordinances or homeowner’s association rules. These same policies don’t ban things like pesticides, Christmas lights, or tacky lawn art—just edible landscaping. The most recent case comes to us from Florida, where a couple was forced to dig up a 17-year old organic garden.

Hermine Ricketts and Tom Carroll have gardened in their front yard for 17 years. Their back yard doesn’t receive enough sunlight. But recently, their community in Miami Shores decided to make such front yard gardens off-limits. That new rule was enacted in May and the couple had until August to remove their vegetables or face fines. Other towns threaten with jail time for growing produce in the front yard.

While Real Farmacy reports the couple dug up the garden after appearing twice in front of the Code Enforcement Board and facing $50 each day the garden remained, there are also reports that they have filed a lawsuit targeted at overturning the zoning regulation that made their garden a battleground.

With the help of the Institute of Justice’s National Food Freedom Initiative, the couple is arguing that the ordinance violates the states Constitution by stopping them from exercising their right to “acquire, possess, and protect” their property.

“The right to grow and harvest your own food on your very own property is certainly part of that right to acquire, possess, and protect property,” said Ari Bargill, attorney for the Institute.

Their prospects don’t look good, however, in light of a similar legal battle in which Florida’s state courts upheld a zoning regulation in Coral Gables that banned homeowners from parking pickups in their driveways, an asinine law that was eventually overturned.

Zoning ordinances, the laws frequently used to hassle front-yard gardeners, are most often enforced selectively, only after someone complains. They are easy to violate when you aren’t familiar with them, and if someone takes offense to you growing crops in your front yard, you too could face fines or uprooting.

If you are contacted by the city where you live to uproot your garden or face consequences, get loud:

  • Contact local elected officials
  • Show up at city council or county board meetings to complain
  • Contact local media
  • Get local gardening, environmental, and other grassroots organizations involved

Or, you could gather the townsfolk to transform the community’s landscape into a giant food-producing edible garden like one England town has done.

Barring people from growing their own food is unconscionable, particularly in these times when what is offered on store shelves is such a far cry from real food.

From around the web:

  • wildsky

    In the UK there are laws that give one rights re usage if something has been done for a certain time without being challenged. It used to be 12 years for planning issues, until it was changed to 20 . Is there no equivalent in the US ?

  • Hays Hussey

    About the guy who was raseing crops to feed his cattle and chicken for home consuption was forced to sell the produce to a coop and then buy it back from same coop at market price though the crop never left his property he also had to pay a tax who was that guy and becam of him?

  • esbee

    While time is wasted on non-issues and non-criminal activity, how many real crimes were being committed, meth makers, child abuse. HOAs hold too much power….they can even sell your house out from under you. Outlaw HOA or limit their powers.

  • Corey Michael Naughton

    Listen, this issue arose because the homeowners are members of a HOA. They WILLINGLY signed a contract which gave the HOA the right to make up rules that they are then forced to follow. This is also why their lawsuit is a waste of time. DO NOT willingly sign over your rights for anything because at the end of the day it’s your own fault.

  • Cassandra

    Ban HOA’s now!

  • John Talmage

    And people are worried about losing their freedoms….as if they really had any to lose. It’s over….america is dead.

  • Lare

    Nine foot high fences would help maybe

  • PersnickitySam

    After I read this I got in my piper (small plane) with 10 acres worth of various NON GMO seeds, and 5 pounds of poppy seed I got online from a restaurant store and accidentally kept having most of them fly out the door at about 1200 feet all over about 3 different state park areas here in Florida. I recommend everyone else do that too. There will be radishes, carrots, opium poppies, lettuce, beets, peppers, and all kinds of things a growing down in there because it’s the rainy season. Some of them gotta grow.

    I’m fixin to do that every Saturday.

  • Flowerdamsel

    Their garden was beautiful! I’ve seen the pics. This is horrible. And after having had this for 17 years, what a pathetic crime to dig it up or face fines and jail. I hope they win this battle…
    Pay taxes for what?
    …. so some local government will tell me and enact laws amongst themselves to what I can and cannot do on my own property! Time to take back Ms. Liberty.
    A beautiful garden that these people had. I hope they WIN IT BACK!!!!!!!!!!!

  • iliad007

    This is your property and you can do anything you want to within reason. The amendment not to have a garden in the front is unconstitutional. Get due process and take them to court and these stupid lawyers and judges are totally ignorant of the constitution and bill of rights. All they know is statutory law which are bullshit. Common law supersedes statutory law. There are some great courses to take and people are beating stupid statutes.

  • just me

    x-post facto

  • Jae

    You know, this is a pointless situation. You can just as easily grow your vegetables in the back yard. People buy houses as an investment. The investment loses value when people do stuff like keep their yard and house looking shabby. If you love your garden so much, move it to the back yard. the vegetables will grow just as easily. It’s that simple.

    • Carol

      but they said in the article that the couple COULD NOT grow them in the back yard due to lack of sunlight..glad l live in least we can use our front yards for veggie patches..

  • Brea Plum

    What does it say about people that the one that pisses them off to the point of taking action is…vegetables. W…T…F…

  • Scott

    Start planting in flower pots. You can grow most vegatation this way and it is mobile. This mobility allows for moving the pots to different parts of a low sun yard. Sprawling and viney plants can be trellised (cucumber, zucchinni, squash, etc.). This way also saves space allowing for a larger crop. Potting is also beneficial to the elderly and handicapped to reach, to weed and water. Cut holes in hanging baskets and plant tomato plants upside-down through the holes, fill with dirt and plant flowers on top. Good luck growers!

  • Gary

    In my county in Florida the zoning is powerless. I have a person who has many not running autos , misc trash covering the entire yard never been mowed or even cut down. The Zoning has summoned him and he has ignored it all. now he has a 6500 lien on his property but so what he does not plan on moving and they cannot do anything if he is still living in his domicile. I continue to call the Zoning dept . but they say they can do no more. Marion County.
    Those folks should just ignore the government after all it is their land isn’t it or are they just tenants?

  • thetruthmaster1

    This is all part of the Agenda 21 NWO control over local Municipality’s Zoning and County Planning. They set these laws inplace tooppress, so the public will be dependent on Corporations for their GMO keep reproduction and health at an all time low. You see, Healthy self sufficient living is a Threat to the Agenda 21′s Mandate.

  • solania

    They are taking away more and more of the citizen rights as much as they can get before their time is over…they are at the verge of loosing their grip on things due to the changing time new paradigm being spread all over the earth….do not despair…good is here to stay for a thousand years!!!!!!!!keep the conciousness clear and know that peace of the heart will envelop all humanity….

  • Linda J

    the article said it was a community and not a HOA. It also stated it was a rule and not a law. My understanding is that rules and regulations and codes are just that and not law. For them to be law they have to pass the state legislation in some manner.
    These are just people telling other people to do things. Maybe it’s time for us to just say no to these people. (they really have no authority) and learn how to combat them in a legal term manner. As soon as an attorney is brought in you are considered incapable of defending yourself and who does the attorney work for? He gets his bar license from the state. We don’t need rulers.

  • magnified

    If you make a choice to live in one of these HOA controlled tracts, you get what you pay for. If you are going to live in one of these places, then be happy with your artificial life. My sadness is reserved for the poor that have to live in tenements in every town. No yard, no freedom, no way to feed yourself with anything other than poison.
    Sorry, but if you are going to live with idiots as the rule-makers, you better expect this kind of crap. I of course am still for fighting this however….
    I made the choice this year to move my family to East Texas in the middle of the country on 10 acres to be away from this mentality.

    • Brea Plum

      First of all, read the article, they did not live under an HOA. Second of all, in many places throughout the country, HOAs are no longer optional but are required by law. Counties and municipalities figure out that HOAs are a great of dumping off the costs of street and utility maintenance.

  • Jann Smith

    Such a sad state of affairs – more sprawling and expansive homes to blight the neighbourhoods across North America, more black asphalt to cover our precious green spaces, and pads of cement to make pretty bbq spaces that fill our backyards, and we are all powerless……
    There is a home on the south side of Edmonton where I live; the couple has grown the most gorgeous flowers and some veggies right to the curb and have it fenced off with 4″ wire……. Yes, they have been in the news because it looks unsightly and messy.
    I think I have a solution which might work. Could the couple in Florida not grow a low hedge – not too high to block the sun, around the whole perimeter of the front yard? And not too deep, say a foot or so, of catoneaster, or other shrub to placate the city and the neighbours….
    I wish the couple good luck in settling the issue…..we need our gardens…….

  • Trav

    I hope everyone involved in making this couple dig up their garden is arrested. I am SICK of this crap!

  • Toni Charlene Evett

    that is the residence they live innot FL. come on. if you don’t want to be subjected to inner comunity laws, don’t be part of an artsy fartsy rich ass community. move…lol stupid people live and BUY homes where they let some dick-tatter tell them what color their homes have to be and when to cut their grass. live with it, you paid good money to be told what to do and when to do it.

    • Brea Plum

      What part of the the garden existing for 17 years without incident until now was unclear to you?

  • Jimmy Russels

    The city council members responsible for this will get what’s coming to them. They had better get their wills and estates sorted out, because when the Event comes they will be some of the first to dangle.

  • JackF

    Might they plant dandelions to get evenski

  • dntmkmecomoverther

    Private property rights are under massive attack folks. AGenda 21, as well as ridiculous city councils have laid waste to our God given personal property rights. Fight back unless you wish to live as slaves.

    • wildsky

      Property rights are socially created.Territories are frequently contested in nature. All this living on little personal plots inside boxes requiring massive resources to build is completely artificial and dependent on community protection .

      • dntmkmecomoverther

        Your assertion is pure bullshidt. My property is MINE. How I choose to utilize it is also MINE as long as I do not interfere or molest the rights of my neighbor. Your premise assumes we have no rights; you might want to go back and read the US Constitution which forbids the government from taking or utilizing or searching that which is MINE (private property).

  • ara

    who exactly is their garden hurting? its their property in this day and age we all need to cut down on the grocery bills. this is just crazy I would fight it all the way up the court system

    • ToledoEngineer

      If you think that the property you “own” is yours and yours alone, stop paying taxes on it and see how long YOU own it. It belongs to the state. You might own the house, but as for the land, well, you just rent it.

  • LandOfTheFreeHah

    Shame on their neighbors! They should all be putting in front yard gardens to send a message. These bureaucrats can stuff it.

  • SuperGram

    Wouldn’t their garden fall under the Grandfather clause since it existed before the law was enacted? We bought a vacation condo in Florida and had two young children at the time. A few years later they made a rule that no children under the age of 18 could live in the community but since we were there before the rule took place we were “grandfathered in”. Wouldn’t this apply here as well?

    • Brea Plum

      Only if the zoning ordinance included a grandfather clause. They aren’t a given.

  • desurt trippur

    Typical… elected busybodies with nothing better to do, making crimes out of non-crimes. Disgusting!

  • jarod

    You said to contact an elected representative. You left out BECOME an elected official. You want to make changes that you feel are positive? Step up to the plate and serve. It’s more important than ever for good people to start serving at the local level. Quit depending on others. If you’re not willing to put in the time & be a part of the solution, stop whining. It is going to take effort to get us back to a nation of independence.

    • dntmkmecomoverther

      Yup! Our current brood of elected vipers suck.

    • JdL

      You left out BECOME an elected official. You want to make changes that you feel are positive? Step up to the plate and serve.

      Nonsense. Becoming an elected official makes you part of the problem. That kind of power corrupts everyone, as centuries of experience have proven.

      To become part of the solution, stand up to government thugs, don’t become one!