Yet another city is in the news this week for trying to shut down someone’s urban garden, a trend that is as obnoxious as the city is claiming a Florida resident’s garden to be.
Obnoxious? That’s right, the cities of South Florida feels that this couple’s front yard garden – which they have had for 17 years – is a nuisance and has ordered it to be removed, lest it continue to be “inconsistent with the cities aesthetic character.”
Failure to remove the garden immediately will land Hermine Ricketts and Tom Carrollo $50 a day in fines.
For the mathematically challenged, that’s an $18,250 annual fine were they to leave their garden up to complete their 18th year of self sufficiency. That’s right, for 17 years this couple has grown 80% of their food in this garden, and now faces an fine so big that it could have paid for an open source private plane or a futuristic auto-aiming sniper rifle.
I would like to tell you this is an isolated incident, but I could write a laundry list of times this has happened in the past several years which would suggest otherwise. I mean it’s not like a Michigan resident faced 93 days in jail for growing a vegetable garden or anything. Or wouldn’t it be crazy if a man in Florida’s “Patriot Garden” earned him a fine of $500 per day when his city started outlawing front yard gardens?
So what will happen, will they win their lawsuit? Will the city cave in to pressure? Will they go bankrupt fighting for their right to be self sufficient?
No, in fact I can tell you right now how this will all play out:
- There will be understandable public outrage which will cause a lot of heat for the city
- The city’s attorneys will make the case that it’s just a zoning issue
- Then the couple who is suing the village in question for $1 and their right to grow on their land will retort that in other cities such as Los Angeles, (where Residents successfully fought the city for their right to grow edible plants on the grass patches between the curb and the sidewalk) precedent has already been set that zoning laws can be changed.
- In the end the city will drop the issue to avoid continued bad PR like has happened in the past.
While this outcome is desirable for the homeowners, it doesn’t address the larger issue.
As Americans, we need to sit down and really decide how we want to move forward as a nation. Will we forever cling to our chemically fertilized lawns, where pesticides keep them looking like an eternally green golf course, all while they rob the natural soil of any usable nutrients and provide nothing in return? Or will we decide that if people would like to use their property to grow their own food and be self sufficient than that is their right?
The ongoing argument in these cases always boils down to “It’s ugly” or that it somehow doesn’t fit the look of the neighborhood, or that it looks too cluttered.
But how far are we willing to go to infringe on other’s property rights just so we can be free of the horrible “visual pollution” of having to watch vegetables grow in our neighbor’s yard?
Ponder that thought for a moment, imagine a world where you pay $500k for a house and the accompanying real estate after years of toil and labor, only to be told that you can’t do what you want on it because it doesn’t fit the norm of how things “ought” to look, even in a city like the one we are discussing where apparently gardens are out, but cliche plastic flamingo’s are totally fine.
Does this story strike a nerve with you? Sound off below in the comment section and let us know what you think.
I’m the founder of Epic Gardening, a website dedicated to teaching 10,000,000 people how to grow plants. I enjoy skateboarding, piano, guitar, business, and experimenting with all kinds of gardening techniques!