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Can the Government Fine You for Having a Vegetable Garden? This one local government said yes


Date Posted: July 18, 2017

Seeds of the Month Club by Mike the Gardener Can the Government Fine You for Having a Vegetable Garden? This one local government said yes
photo credit: Miami Herald

Did you ever think your local government can make it illegal for you to have a vegetable garden? Imagine, you are growing a vegetable garden, and a local government official happens to drive by your property, sees that you are growing vegetables, and decides, “hey, you can’t do that”, so they shut your vegetable gardening down.

It sounds far fetched right? Well it’s not, because a local government did indeed do just that. They told one couple either stop growing vegetables on their own property or face fines.

Judge Rules Government Can Ban Vegetable Gardens Because They’re ‘Ugly’


Hermine Ricketts and Tom Carroll were just like any other couple wanting to grow a little of their own food. So they decided to grow some okra, kale, lettuce and more than a dozen other popular variety of vegetables on their front yard. They were doing so, according to a Miami Herald article for more than a decade, when the government of Miami-Shores, an upscale community, decided to enforce a law on the books that states, front yards can only be covered with grass.
Can the Government Fine You for Having a Vegetable Garden
Hermine Ricketts and Tom Carroll src: Miami Herald

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Is it your belief that it is within your right to grow food on your property, regardless of whether it is the front or back yard? Well, according to Richard Sarafan, the attorney representing Miami-Shores, it’s not. Sarafan was quoted as saying, “There certainly is not a fundamental right to grow vegetables in your front yard. Aesthetics and uniformity are legitimate government purposes. Not every property can lawfully be used for every purpose.”

Recommended Reading on this TopicHomeowner's Rights: A Legal Guide to Your Neighborhood
Homeowner's Rights: A Legal Guide to Your Neighborhood by Mark Warda



In a 10 page ruling by circuit court judge Monica Gordo, the judge claims that Miami-Shores does have a right to regulate the appearance of a resident’s front yard if they deem that front yard to be unsightly or ugly.
Can the Government Fine You for Having a Vegetable Garden
Hermine Ricketts and Tom Carroll src: Miami Herald

The couple were forced to remove their front yard garden, however Judge Gordo did give them some options to get the ordinance changed. They can petition the council to get the law changed or support candidates to unseat incumbents who refuse to change the ordinance.

Ricketts v. Miami Shores: Press Conference


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Many rulings that are similar to this one included violations of HOA rules where homeowners agree to the rules prior to moving in. This is different because there is no HOA, and the couple own their home.

Recommended Reading on this TopicDefend Your Condo & Homeowner Rights! What You Must Do When the Board Turns Your Life Upside Down
Defend Your Condo & Homeowner Rights! What You Must Do When the Board Turns Your Life Upside Down by Mark Warda



There has been no further information in regards to what the couple plans on doing next to try reinstate their front yard gardens, but according to the article, they are weighing their options.

If you liked this article and the video that accompanies it and got something from it, please share it with your friends. Don’t forget to subscribe to The Vegetable Gardening Show on YouTube and our Vegetable Gardening Facebook page.

Happy gardening!


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Mike the gardener

About the Author

Mike Podlesny is the host of The Vegetable Gardening Show where he interviews gardening industry experts, and author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person. Don`t forget to link up with Mike on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.


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