Florida Lifts Ban on Front-Yard Vegetable Gardens

Florida passes law saying cities can’t stop people from growing food on their own property, even in their front yards

Credit: Todd Anderson New York Times, Orlando couple will now be able to keep vegetable garden

State lawmakers in Florida have told cities they must respect citizens’ property rights, and seemingly even more basic right to grow their own food.

They just passed a bill “prohibiting local governments from regulating vegetable gardens on residential properties.”

“Such regulations are void and unenforceable,” the new law says.

The legislation was inspired by a couple who had had been tending a beautiful front-yard vegetable garden for 17 years when the town of Miami Shores told them it was illegal and made them tear it up.

Credit: Tampa Bay Times, Tom Carroll and Hermine Ricketts stand in their front-yard vegetable garden in Miami Shores

It didn’t matter how nearly they tended their tomatoes, beets, scallions, spinach, kale and multiple varieties of Asian cabbage, only non-edible “ornamental” plants could be planted in view of the public, “unsightly” Swiss chard needed to be hidden behind the house, the town said.

The couple argued there wasn’t enough sunlight in the backyard.

“Indignant at the fact that vegetables were deemed more offensive than boats, RVs, jet skis, statues, fountains, gnomes, pink flamingoes, or Santa in a Speedo in one’s front yard,” they took their case all the way to the Florida Supreme Court, but lost, Tree Hugger reports.

But a few months later, their story hit a nerve with enough state lawmakers, they are now victorious.

”The world is changing when it comes to food,” said Republican senator Rob Bradley, who sponsored the bill.

“There’s a big interest when it comes to locally sourced food or organic products. It is our role, our duty to review decisions that are made in the courts that uphold local government actions that violate property rights … When you own a piece of property, you should be able to grow food on that property for your family’s consumption.”

One lawmaker feared frontyard gardens would attract “iguanas and rats,” but didn’t say why that wasn’t a concern for backyard gardens.