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Florida couple forced to destroy organic front-yard veggie garden, sues city over constitutional rights violation

Home gardening

(NaturalNews) It's happening more and more: local government nannies forcing Americans to become reliant on "the system," and less independent, so that they can control them.

The latest example of this took place in Miami Shores where, as reported by The Associated Press, local government officials forced a South Florida couple to dig up an organic vegetable garden that they had grown in their front yard for 17 years.

Why? Because city council members passed a new ordinance banishing all gardens to back yards. And now the couple is suing, asking a judge to rule that the front yard ban is a violation of their constitutional rights.

As AP noted:

Tom Carroll and Hermine Ricketts say they dug up the garden in front of their Miami Shores home in August 2013 when town officials threatened to fine them $50 a day if they didn't. The threatened fine came a few months after the Miami Shores Village Council adopted a new zoning plan for the town of about 10,500 north of Miami.

The couple sued, and at a hearing
[recently] their attorney said the ban violates the Florida Constitution in several ways, including improper limits on their private property rights and violation of the equal protection clause by singling out vegetables over other plants.

"We're not saying you can do anything you want on your property," attorney Ari Bargil told Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Monica Gordo. "We are simply saying you can grow vegetables on your property and that is protected by the Constitution."

'It's just a garden'

The city argued otherwise. Attorney Richard Sarafan told the court that the new zoning rule was not an irrational decision, and that all homeowners were being treated the same – they had to grow grass, sod or "living ground cover" in their front yards, though the ordinance did not further define that last part. Anyone, he said, can grow a veggie garden in the back yard.

"There certainly is not fundamental right to grow vegetables in your front yard," Sarafan said. "Aesthetics and uniformity are legitimate government purposes. Not every property can lawfully be used for every purpose."

Apparently Sarafan and the city elders have never heard of the concepts of freedom and individual liberty. How it is possible to adjudge that the cosmetic appearance of a person's property – as it pertains to the growing of a vegetable garden – is a legitimate government interest is understandable only to an authoritarian.

Carroll, who went to the hearing, said that the couple wanted to grow vegetables and produce organically, without the use of any pesticides. He also said that throughout the time they grew the garden – which contained about 75 different varieties of vegetables – they never once received any complaints from any neighbors.

"It's important that we have the right to do something on our own property," Carroll said. "We're just trying to grow vegetables."

It's not like they've got an oil well or a burn pit in the front yard.

The couple is represented by attorneys from a Libertarian nonprofit organization, the Arlington, Virginia-based Institute for Justice, which specializes in privacy rights, school choice and free speech. And, while Gordo had not yet ruled on the matter, both sides said there would likely be an appeal of any decision.

Finally, a victory

This isn't the first case of its kind. In November 2012 we reported that Orlando, another Florida city, and site of a recent terrorist attack, was attempting to force a resident to get rid of his front yard garden.

According to local reports, Jason Helvingston, who planted a 25 x 25 foot micro-irrigated garden of radishes, wax beans, kale and other veggies, planned to defy the city, saying he didn't see any problem in trying to grow his own food.

The following January we reported that Jason and his wife, Jennifer, were facing fines of $500 a day if they didn't dig up their garden. They, too, were represented by the Institute for Justice.

Eventually, Orlando relented [story here].





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