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A judge will hear a case this month to determine if a Florida couple can grow vegetables in their own yard.
Hermine Ricketts and Tom Carroll are the couple who had to rip out a garden they had grown for 17 years because of a zoning ordinance, as Off The Grid News previously reported.
On May 26 a Florida state judge will hear arguments and begin determining if the Village of Miami Shores violated the couple’s rights in 2013 by changing zoning ordinances to ban front-yard vegetable gardens. Shortly after the ban, code enforcement officers gave the couple a choice of pulling their vegetables or paying a $50-a-day fine.
The garden was ordered removed for aesthetic reasons, even though neighbors and passersby would often complement the married couple on the garden’s beauty, The Institute for Justice reported. The Institute’s attorneys are representing Ricketts and Carroll in a lawsuit against the village.
Garden Ban Violated State Constitution
The Institute is contending that Miami Shores violated the Florida Constitution’s basic rights clause, which grants property rights to all the state’s residents.
“Any such collection of rights naturally includes the right to use property to provide for the basic necessities of life,” the Institute said in a news release. “Indeed, the right to procure and consume nutritious food has been considered part and parcel of the celebrated American ‘right to pursue one’s happiness.’”
Attorneys also contend that the village violated the Florida State Constitution’s privacy clause, which bans arbitrary government interference in private activities.
“The fact is, Miami Shores is not rejecting the physical appearance of Hermine and Tom’s garden at all,” the press release said. “Rather, it is misusing its regulatory power to prohibit a certain lifestyle, one in which responsible property owners put their property to productive use — in a way that harms no one — in order to become independent and self-sufficient. It is utterly irrational that Hermine and Tom could have flowers, fruit or flamingos in their front yard, but not vegetables.”
If the judge rules in the couple’s favor it would be a major victory for all Floridians who want to garden. Other cities, including Orlando, have tried to ban front yard gardens.
“Simply put, government has no legitimate interest in preventing people from seeing vegetables,” the press release said.
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