Big Government Police State: Florida residents being fined for growing vegetables on their own property

Vegetable gardens
Source: NaturalNews.com
Samantha Debbie
August 4, 2016

Florida may be known for its tropical climate and spicy Latin-American culture, but what it’s not known for is the freedom to garden. The southeastern state continues to make headlines over the state government’s contempt for front yard gardens.

Tom Carroll and Hermine Ricketts had been cultivating their garden for 17 years when their hometown, Miami Shores, passed a new ordinance restricting vegetable growing to the backyard. The couple begrudgingly dug up their lush garden in August 2013, after local officials threatened them with a daily fine of $50, according to reporting by Fox News.

Miami Shores fights longtime residents over front yard vegetable garden

The ordinance was a component of a new zoning plan adopted by the town, which has a population of about 10,500 people, and is located just north of Miami.

The South Florida couple sued over the garden ban, arguing that it was a violation of the state’s Constitution, because it included “improper limits on their private property rights and violation of the equal protection clause by singling out vegetables over other plants.”

The couple’s attorney argued at a hearing in June 2016 that barring them from growing vegetables anywhere on their property violated their Constitutional rights.

“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.”

Growing vegetables is not a fundamental right, says community lawyer

Richard Sarafan, the attorney for Miami Shores, countered that the new zoning rule was not “irrational and treated all homeowners the same: their front yards should be covered with grass, sod or a ‘living ground cover’ not further defined. It’s no problem, he said, to have a vegetable garden in the backyard,” according to reports.

“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.”

On Thursday, August 25, a Miami-Dade judge upheld the ruling, indefinitely banning front yard gardens. Circuit Judge Monica Gordo ruled that while she doesn’t understand the argument that front yard gardens destroy aesthetics in neighborhoods, the city nonetheless has the right to ban them, according to the Miami Herald.

Judge: City has ‘every right to decide front-yard veggies make a neighborhood ugly’

“Given the high degree of deference that must be given to a democratically elected governmental body … Miami Shores’ ban on vegetable gardens outside of the backyard passes constitutional scrutiny,” wrote Gordo.

The ruling is a big disappointment for the South Florida couple, who love to grow a variety of organic vegetables including okra, kale, lettuce, onions, spinach and several varieties of cabbage.

“I am disappointed by today’s ruling,” said Ricketts, whose legal battle with the city lasted three long years.

“My garden not only provided us with food, but it was also beautiful and added character to the community. I look forward to continuing this fight and ultimately winning so I can once again use my property productively instead of being forced to have a useless lawn.”

Meanwhile, the upscale community maintains its right to regulate the area’s aesthetic. Vegetables are fine as long as they’re out of sight, said the community’s attorney at a hearing in June.

A ‘blow to property rights’

The only recourse the couple has is to ask that the ordinance be revised or vote in new council members, said the judge.

“They can petition the Village Council to change the ordinance. They can also support candidates for the Council who agree with their view that the ordinance should be repealed,” wrote Gordo.

“If Hermine and Tom wanted to grow fruit or flowers or display pink flamingos, Miami Shores would have been completely fine with it,” said the couple’s lawyer, Ari Bargil, a representative from the Institute for Justice, a libertarian law firm.

“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.”

The firm called the ruling a “blow to property rights.”

Read More At: NaturalNews.com

Sources:

MiamiHerald.com

OffTheGridNews.com

FoxNews.com

NaturalNews.com

Florida Couple Forced To Destroy Organic Front-Yard Veggie Garden, Sues City Over Constitutional Rights Violation

Home gardening

Source: NaturalNews.com
J.D. Heyes
June 20, 2016

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].

Read More AT: NaturalNews.com

Controversy Ensues: Is Growing Your Own Vegetables A Fundamental Right?

vegetables
Source: UndergroundReporter.org
Brandon Turbeville
June 14, 2016

A new local controversy is brewing in South Florida surrounding yet another instance of local governments imposing fines on residents and persecuting them over maintaining gardens on their property.

After living in Miami Shores for 17 years, and growing vegetables in their front yard for the same amount of time, Tom Carroll and Hermine Ricketts were forced to dig up the garden in front of their home in 2014 when they were threatened by town officials with $50 a day fines if they did not. The threat of fines came only a few months after the Miami Shores Village Council passed a new zoning plan meaning that low-level bureaucrats wasted no time in fanning out amongst residential areas to uproot violators.

The couple is now suing on grounds that the ban on front yard gardens violates the Florida Constitution by imposing improper limits on private property rights as well as violating the equal protection clause. The couple is being represented by lawyers with Institute for Justice, a Libertarian non-profit organization that focuses on free speech and property rights among other issues.

Attorney Ari Bargil told circuit judge Monica Gordo, “were not saying you can do anything you want on your property, we are simply saying you can grow vegetables on your property and that is protected by the constitution.”

Bargil’s argument sounds perfectly reasonable, i.e. that the Constitution protects the right of an individual to grow gardens wherever they like on their property. But the politicians and bureaucrats in Miami Shores, however, are not exactly what one would consider reasonable. For instance, Richard Sarafan, argued that the new zoning rule was not irrational and that the couple’s yard should be covered with grass, sod or “living ground cover.” If they want a vegetable garden it should be in the back yard.

It’s not surprising that an attorney for Miami Shores wouldn’t find the zoning rule irrational. After all, he is making quite a bit of money from the argument. The fact that an attorney, politician, or bureaucrat would assume that they have the authority to tell a couple how and where they can have a garden on their own property is also not surprising. Neither is the fact that they would have the time or neurosis to do so.

What is surprising, however, is that Sarafan would argue that vegetable producing plants are not living ground cover. After all, he and his client were the ones that left “living ground cover” undefined.

Plants are living. They are on the ground. And they cover it.

Seems like Mr. Sarafan has caused himself to be in quite a pickle with his argument (we sincerely hope this pickle originated in the backyard, not the front). Thankfully, for Miami Shores, Sarafan’s detailed understanding of the Constitution is on their side.

“There certainly is not [a] fundamental right to grow vegetables in your front yard,” Sarafan said.

Seriously.

He actually said that.

Continue Reading At: UndergroundReporter.Org