Vegetables are back on the menu!
Florida homeowners can now plant veggies and fruits in their front yard thanks to a new law that stems from a six-year battle between Hermine Ricketts and Miami Shores Village.
It wasn’t your garden variety legal affair when Ricketts and her husband Tom Carroll filed suit against the village.
See, the couple had been maintaining a front-yard vegetable garden for nearly 20 years when one day in 2013 a Miami Shores Village code enforcement officer served them a notice that they were in violation of a city ordinance prohibiting it.
“I pointed out to them that I could go outside the front door of their village hall and pick the flowers from a hibiscus tree and eat the flower. So they have edible plants in their front yard,” Ricketts explained in an NPR interview. “But they ignore that. They figured the only thing that was edible is what they could find in a supermarket.”
According to the Institute for Justice, a national advocacy group that fights for property rights, Ricketts and Carroll were facing a fine of $50 per day if they didn’t dismantle the garden.
“When the Institute for Justice heard that a local government was waging a senseless fight against Hermine and Tom’s vegetable garden, we were glad to come to their aid,” Institute for Justice attorney Ari Bargil said in a press release. “When the courts refused to stand up for their rights, we didn’t give up, and this new law is the result of persistent advocacy. Hermine and Tom are free to replant their garden, a right they now share with every other Floridian. I’m looking forward to seeing new life planted in the front yard next week.”
Originally, Florida’s Third District Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Miami Shores Village and the Florida Supreme Court declined to take up the issue.
However, Ricketts’ vegetable patch caught the attention of Florida lawmakers, who passed SB 82 with bipartisan support.
“I’m grateful to the legislature and the governor for standing up to protect my freedom to grow healthy food on my own property. What is sad is that this fight even needed to be waged in the courts and the capital,” Ricketts said. “Finally, the state has ended a senseless assault on our property rights.”
The law, which Gov. Ron DeSantis approved in late June, “prohibits a county, municipality, or other political subdivision of the state from regulating vegetable gardens on residential properties. Any local ordinance or regulation regarding vegetable gardens on residential properties is void and unenforceable.”
“It shouldn’t have taken this long and it really shouldn’t have happened at all, but here we are,” Bargil said. “For cities that want to regulate like de facto homeowners associations, this law is now on the books and it’s going to prevent them from respect for people growing what they want to eat.”
With the issue now buried, the fruits, or better said veggies, of Ricketts’ labor can now grow.
“I am just pleased to be here, to know that all the people in the state can benefit from my six years of stress,” Ricketts told WPLG.
Melissa’s career in writing started more than 20 years ago. Today, she lives in South Florida with her husband and two boys.