Property Rights

After 6-Year Fight, Florida Couple Wins Right to Grow Veggies at Home

Local governments can't outlaw home vegetable gardens under a new Florida law.

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Vegetables are ugly. Or at least that's the view of the officials in Miami Shores, Florida, who implemented a ban on front-yard vegetable gardens at residential properties in 2013. The ordinance forced Hermine Ricketts and her husband, Laurence Carroll, to uproot the garden they'd maintained for nearly two decades.

Now they can start planting again: The Florida legislature has passed a bill shielding vegetable gardens from local prohibitions. "After nearly six years of fighting…I will once again be able to legally plant vegetables in my front yard," Ricketts said in a statement. "I'm grateful to the Legislature and the governor for standing up to protect my freedom to grow healthy food on my own property."

The Institute for Justice filed a lawsuit on Ricketts' behalf in 2013. Florida's Third District Court of Appeals upheld the ban, and the state's Supreme Court declined to hear the case. So Ricketts and the institute lobbied the legislature, and it passed a law effectively invalidating the local ordinance. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed it last week.

How were city commissioners able to pass the rule in the first place, much less get it past an appeals court? It was billed as a zoning regulation, which cities have near-unlimited power in implementing. The Florida League of Cities opposed Ricketts' efforts until the end, arguing that code enforcement is an essential tool for maintaining a town's aesthetic. They also didn't like the idea of a state government preempting measures adopted at the local level.

Ricketts now uses a wheelchair and has suffered from a litany of health issues in recent years, which she blames on stress induced by the legal battle. She's hoping that a little gardening might be the medicine she needs.

"You're down on the earth, touching the soil, kneeling on the ground….It's a healing process," she told the Miami Herald. "I'm hoping to get back in the garden and spend time outside doing things I love. The healing things in the sunshine."

NEXT: New York City Officially Launches Absurd Ban on Adding CBD to Food, Coffee

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  1. But now the state requires homes be no more than six inches from the front roadway.

    1. “Tomatoes are *fruits* — you are *so* busted!”

      1. My favorite quote:
        “Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit.
        Wisdom is not putting a tomato into a fruit salad.”

        1. Very good. “Your education is what remains after you’ve forgotten everything you learned in school.”

  2. Bad news for Libertarians; local government preempted by state government.
    Bad news for Libertarians, both state and local governments think they have the power to restrict your property rights.

    1. 1. Local governments are not automatically better at protecting liberty than larger governments are. In fact, because they get less scrutiny local governments are frequently more oppressive than larger governments. The sole advantage to government at the lowest level is that when they screw up, the damage is limited. But it’s still damage and still deserves correction.

      2. Having said all that, the distinction between a municipal government and a state government doesn’t really support your argument. Unlike the states and the feds which are separate sovereigns, municipalities are entirely created by, controlled by and subordinate to the states. Municipalities have no independent source of authority. So in a legal sense, the local government cannot be “preempted” by the state because the state had all the authority in the first place.

      But, yes, it is still troubling that governments at all levels think they have the power to meddle in our property rights.

      1. In fact, because they get less scrutiny local governments are frequently more oppressive than larger governments.

        Less scrutiny? I guess if you get all your news online and avoid all human contact and have no sense of place whatsoever. Which is admittedly far more common than it used to be. But I’d argue that someone like that can’t actually be ‘oppressed’ in any real meatspace sense because they don’t exist in meatspace. I’d say your typical local cop gets far more daily scrutiny than your typical DC based ‘czar’.

        Unlike the states and the feds which are separate sovereigns, municipalities are entirely created by, controlled by and subordinate to the states. Municipalities have no independent source of authority. So in a legal sense, the local government cannot be “preempted” by the state because the state had all the authority in the first place

        That’s still completely true in federal courts which only recognize the state as the sovereign entity (called Dillon’s Rule). But 10 states (not FL) have adopted an alternative doctrine – called Cooley Doctrine or home rule – which asserts that local governance is actually the original outlet of self-governance which is an absolute right and it is the states that are an artificial creation. As long as those states have incorporated home rule into their constitution (hence moving their existence beyond legislative statute) and the home rule entity does not violate individual rights protected in state or federal constitutions; then it can’t be eliminated by that state.

        The Cooley Doctrine is actually a better approach to restoring govt back to their classical liberal functions re both negative liberty and positive liberty. The muni/local is the best first vehicle for positive liberty with higher levels as only ‘residual’ entities for that. The federal is the best first protector of negative liberty since it is bigger than anyone who would want to spank the individual with lower levels as only residual protectors.

    2. “both state and local governments think they have the power to restrict your property rights.”

      They don’t just /think/ they can. They can do anything you can’t stop them from doing.

      1. Property rights, like all other rights, are exactly those rights that other people are ready and willing to give you. There’s no other kind.

        1. No, James, rights are inalienable. Sometimes you have to take an axe to the governments trying to deprive you of them. The “other kind” of rights you claim don’t exist, are the ones for which you’re willing to take up arms and overthrow the oppressors. It gets really messy, doesn’t it?

          1. Folks just don’t normally do that kind of rebellion over toms in the front yard.

          2. “No, James, rights are inalienable.”

            No, they are not, and never have been. Try lecturing the mugger about your inalienable right to keep your property, and see if he goes ahead and alienates it.

            The rights you have are the rights that other people are willing to extend to you, and nothing more. If the fellow with the machine gun isn’t inclined to honor your right to life, you’re going to get dead. If the burglar who broke into your home while you were away isn’t inclined to honor your right to property, guess what’s not there when you get home? And so on, and so on, and so on.

  3. You let people get away with growing veggies in their front yard and next thing you know they’ll be wanting to infuse the vegetables with CBD oil. Nip it in the bud, I say. You give the inmates an inch and they’ll want a mile.

    1. ….. and next comes “helter-skelter” ….
      …. oh, please god …. not that!

  4. But the local government can still force him to serve tomato soup at the Veggie Pride picnic?

  5. If the USA moved more Libertarian, there would be tiny and limited government with far fewer laws.

    The majority of states laws would be to restrict cities and countries from infringing on the rights of state citizens. Some others can be rules so we’re all on the same page, like Rules of the Road.

  6. A “vegetable” is any edible part of any plant.

    Marijuana is edible. So are coca leaves. AFAIK, so are opium poppies. Is the state law of Florida that these plants are now legal to grow on private property?

  7. Nobody really owns any property anyway. They are leasing from the government with the government setting the lease terms.

  8. “The Florida League of Cities opposed Ricketts’ efforts until the end, arguing that code enforcement is an essential tool for maintaining a town’s aesthetic.

    Translation: “for keeping property values artificially high so the tax money can keep rolling in”.

  9. A victory for tomatoes everywhere!

  10. Ohhh, Nice Article and Thanks For Sharing This Type Of News.

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