A garden beautifully lined with bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, squash and jalapeño is a relaxing sight to see. Those are just some of the vegetables that can be seen planted in the front yard of Hermine Ricketts and husband Tom Carroll’s home in Miami Shores Village, Florida.
Last July 1, 2019, a new Florida law finally banishes all local ordinances that restricted residences from planting fresh produce in their one backyards. It was one of these ordinances that was finally lifted, which forced the couple to uproot their garden that Ricketts was tending for the last 17 years.
Ricketts strategically positioned her vegetable garden in the front of her home because that is where the sun shines most, as reported by Greg Allan from NPR in 2013: “[H]er house faces south and her backyard is mostly in the shade. A retired architect, originally from Jamaica, Ricketts says she gardens for the food and for the peace it brings her.”
“This is a peach tree that I put in, and around it, I had kale, and in between the kales, I had some Chinese cabbage, and I also had Swiss chard, yellow Swiss chard.”
And suddenly, a zoning ordinance was changed to banning any vegetable planting on front yards. A 50$ fine for everyday that there would be vegetables planted in the front yard was then taken to effect, which gave Ricketts no choice but to uproot her vegetable garden.
She then reached out to the Institute for Justice, which is a national advocacy group fighting mostly for property rights, and she lawyered up.
It was a long journey of six years to fight against these ordinances, but they eventually won. An appeals court initially ruled against Ricketts, but just recently, the Florida legislature passed a bill that protects vegetable gardens and Governor Ron DeSantis officially signed it into law.
“After nearly six years of fighting … I will once again be able to legally plant vegetables in my front yard. I’m grateful to the Legislature and the governor for standing up to protect my freedom to grow healthy food on my own property,” Ricketts said in a statement.
She included that the protest against these ordinances had to happen. “We had a beautiful, nutritious garden for many years before the Village went out of its way to ban it and then threatened us with ruinous fines,” she said.
She also shared her win with Miami Herald saying:
“Gardening is wonderful. I feel victory. … I have no words.”
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