In This Town, It's Illegal to Grow Vegetables in Your Front Yard

Pink bucket planted with tomatoes next to other vegetables and herbs
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A Florida village made this couple rip up their garden.

A Florida couple spent decades growing a vegetable garden in their front yard. Little did they know, they were breaking the law the whole time. Or as the Miami Herald put it (imagine this in a "Twilight Zone" voice):

"Ricketts and Carroll thought they were gardeners when they grew tomatoes, beets, scallions, spinach, kale and multiple varieties of Asian cabbage. But according to a village ordinance that restricts edible plants to backyards only, they were actually criminals. They didn’t think they were engaged in a Swiss chard conspiracy or eggplant vice, yet they were breaking the law."

Yes, in the Floridian village of Miami Shores where married couple Hermine Ricketts and Tom Carroll lived, you could grow an ornamental garden in your front yard — flowers and such — but growing vegetables was against the rules. So the village made the two rip up their vegetable garden in 2017. But a bill filed last week could change the rules.

“It’s all about conformity. Miami Shores wants to be a mini Coral Gables,” Ricketts said. “What is the definition of edible? I can go into any front yard and find something edible because every plant has an edible part."

Ricketts thinks the village had no right to get involved.

“That’s what government does – interferes in people’s lives,” Ricketts said. “We had that garden for 17 years. We ate fresh meals every day from that garden. Since the village stepped its big foot in it, they have ruined our garden and my health.”

Ironically, the Florida state government is now considering passing a bill making it illegal to make it illegal to grow vegetable gardens in your front yard.

"Any such local ordinance or regulation regulating vegetable gardens on residential properties is void and unenforceable," says the bill.

Oddly, this could be one issue that unites the political spectrum. Because seriously, who wants a government that stops people from growing food on their own property?

There are so many problems with agriculture today. Fruits and vegetables are bred for long shelf lives rather than flavor or nutrition. Transporting food around the world uses up vast quantities of energy. And people waste tons of food. Planting a garden in your front yard, rather than filling it with pointless grass, is a good move, both for the individual farmers and the planet.

"Miami Shores claims to promote green living," continued Ricketts. What could be more green than walking out your front door and picking what you’ve grown rather than driving to the store and buying what has been trucked in, in quantities that contribute to food waste?”