Florida Court Strikes Down Front-Yard Edible Gardens for Miami Shores

By Jason Erickson

Apparently the right to feed yourself and your family is indeed not a fundamental one, as a Florida attorney previously declared.

A longstanding battle between 17-year homeowners at the Village of Miami Shores, Tom Carroll and Hermine Ricketts, appears to have reached its sad conclusion. In 2014, the couple was advised by town officials after a re-zoning plan that they would have to dig up their front-yard edible garden or face fines of $50 per day for the newly created infraction. The couple subsequently sued based on a constitutional infringement upon their right to use their own private property as well as a violation of the equal protection clause.

Now, according to the Institute for Justice which had been representing the couple, Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal actually has agreed with the opposing attorney who stated: “There certainly is not [a] fundamental right to grow vegetables in your front yard.”

The Institute for Justice is rightly calling this “a major blow to property rights.”

In today’s decision, the court upheld the vegetable ban, concluding that it is rational for government to ban “the cultivation of plants to be eaten as part of a meal, as opposed to the cultivation of plants for ornamental reasons.”

“If Hermine and Tom wanted to grow fruit or flowers or display pink flamingos, Miami Shores would have been completely fine with it,” continued Bargil. “They should be equally free to grow food for their own consumption, which they did for 17 years before the village forced them to uproot the very source of their sustenance.”

The case has brought international attention to an issue that affects all Americans: our food. Michael Bindas, an IJ senior attorney and director of IJ’s National Food Freedom Initiative, said “the Institute for Justice will continue to fight until courts make clear that all Americans have the right to peacefully and productively use their property to feed themselves and their families.” (Source)

This is not the first case of government’s haphazard rewriting of code in order to deprive people of their property rights. Jason and Jennifer Helvenston of Orlando were ordered to destroy their 25 x 25 front-yard veggie garden or else pay $500 per day in fines. Fortunately for them, after an online campaign and fierce resistance, Orlando did relent – with conditions:

City Council pre-approved rules for veggie gardens on up to 60% of a front yard (water conservation cited as the reasoning), set back 3 feet from property line, screened in with fencing or shrubbery and not in public right-of-way.

While the Helvenston’s felt fortunate, given the alternative, it is still a demonstration of the very worst that bureaucracy can offer up. The creation of codes and regulations that can end-run inherent property and constitutional rights is anathema to self-ownership and living in a free society.

As for Tom Carroll and Hermine Ricketts, they appear to have become an unfortunate precedent that is being set.

Jason Erickson writes for NaturalBlaze.com. This article (Florida Court Strikes Down Front-Yard Edible Gardens for Miami Shores) may be republished in part or in full with author attribution and source link.

Top image credit: Pixabay

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