Miami, FL — Last month, Florida’s 3rd District Court of Appeal upheld Miami Shores’ tyrannical and entirely unhealthy ban on front-yard vegetable gardens. The village of Miami Shores, according to the ruling, has every right to take legal action against residents who dare to grow food in their own yards because they are “ugly.”
The ruling in this most recent court case states that:
Miami Shores homeowners may have virtually anything in their
front yard. They may decorate with garden gnomes, pink flamingos and trolls. They may park their boats and jet skis. And they are free to grow whatever trees, flowers, shrubs, grasses, fruits and berries they desire. There is, however, one thing forbidden: Vegetables.
The court’s decision was based on a now four-year long legal battle of Tom Carroll and Hermine Ricketts. All homeowners will be fined $50 a day, not for robbing banks, or trafficking humans, or running some other criminal enterprise — but for growing their own food.
For 17 years, the couple grew their own food in their front yard until one day, the state came knocking.
“That’s what government does – interferes in people’s lives,” Ricketts said. “We had that garden for 17 years. We ate fresh meals every day from that garden. Since the village stepped its big foot in it, they have ruined our garden and my health.”
No one was harmed by the couple’s garden, it was entirely organic, and in nearly two decades, not one of their neighbors ever complained. The only injured party in this ridiculous act was the state.
According to the tyrannical legislation, all homeowners are subject to the same absurd constraints. Their yards must be covered in grass — that is the law.
“There certainly is not a fundamental right to grow vegetables in your front yard,” Richard Sarafan, attorney for Miami Shores, said at the start of the case. “Aesthetics and uniformity are legitimate government purposes. Not every property can lawfully be used for every purpose.”
The hubris that it takes to claim that no one has a right to grow vegetables in their front yard is mind-blowing. Carroll and Ricketts’ yard is not publicly owned and is not subject to the government’s ‘uniformity’ code — especially when all they are doing is growing food.
“This decision gives local governments tremendous leeway to regulate harmless activities in the name of aesthetics,” said Institute lawyer Ari Bargil, according to the Miami Herald. “It gives government the power to prohibit homeowners from growing plants in their front yards simply because they intend to eat them.”
This case is different than many of the other gardening cases that arise across the country as the majority of front yard gardens are opposed by Home Owner Associations — not the government. When an HOA tells someone they cannot grow a garden it’s because that person voluntarily agreed to the rules.
Unlike members of HOAs, however, Carroll and Ricketts never agreed to these arbitrary constraints on their private property, which happened to be imposed on them nearly two decades after they’d been growing their own food.
While Ricketts and Carroll are upset over the ruling, the do not plan on backing down anytime soon and they are now taking the case to the Florida Supreme Court.
“It’s all about conformity. Miami Shores wants to be a mini Coral Gables,” Ricketts said of another tidy, upscale South Florida city known for strict zoning regulations that at one time included a ban on pickup trucks in driveways at night, accoring to the Miami Herald. “What is the definition of edible? I can go into any front yard and find something edible because every plant has an edible part.
“Miami Shores claims to promote green living. What could be more green than walking out your front door and picking what you’ve grown rather than driving to the store and buying what has been trucked in, in quantities that contribute to food waste?”
The court tried to tell the couple that if they don’t like the ordinance, they can simply petition the government to change it.
However, that is what this couple has been doing for years. Changing the system from within has had zero effect.
The irony here is that had Carroll and Ricketts been growing their garden in the backyard, spraying gallons of glyphosate and permethrin into the air, the city would have been entirely fine with it. Only when this innocent couple dares to grow food in their front yard, violating the “aesthetics and uniformity” of their control freak government, do they ever hear a word.
“If Hermine and Tom wanted to grow fruit or flowers or display pink flamingos, Miami Shores would have been completely fine with it,” said their lawyer, Ari Bargil with the Institute of Justice. “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.”
In modern day America, growing your own food has now become a revolutionary act.
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