City of Orlando: Uproot Your Vegetable Garden or Pay Us $500 a Day 107

warningJanuary 7th, 2013, ORLANDO, Fla. -A College Park couple’s vegetable garden is on the chopping block again after the city threatened fines if they don’t uproot it by Thursday, according to the Institute for Justice Florida Chapter.

In November, Local 6 broke the story about the controversial garden after the city told the Helvenstons their 25-by-25-foot front yard vegetable garden was not in compliance with the city’s code.

After hundreds of emails supporting the couple flowed in and initially allowing the Helvenstons to keep their garden, saying it will hold off on violations, the city has since asked the couple to uproot the garden and replace it with a lawn or face fines.

According to Ari Bargil, an attorney for the Institute for Justice, the Helvenstons have a scheduled inspection and will be fined starting on Thursday, up to $500 a day.


The Helvenstons

The greatest freedom you can give someone is the freedom to know they will not go hungry.” -Jason Helvenston

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  1. City of Tucson tried to fine me for weeds, having a wildflower garden that the city inspectors didn’t even know the name of the plants or that they were natives when I showed them photos They objected when they went to seed. Takes 2 months for the seed to ripen. The third time they tried to hassle me I invited the head of the city weed patrol to my home for a class in wildflowers, while they were in bloom. As a landscaper for decades my knowledge far exceeds them.
    They don’t bother me anymore. No fine.

  2. I live near the Helvenstons but I don’t know them…we are between growing seasons here in zone 9 and it is time to plan for the spring and summer seasons…all they need to do is rethink the layout of their garden, retool a few things, and the city will stop bothering them. I have my own large veggie garden in plain sight on a corner-lot (technically in the “backyard”) but mine is also 1 street outside the Orlando, FL city limit; nobody bothers me.

  3. planted my house in rockledge with 28 fruit trees,Neighborhood grinch complaied that hoodlooms could hide and jump out at her.I told the city that o oe would get near the front line of lemon varieties in the dark for the thorns.I live i SC now.Apartments forced me to remove my garden I had planted where their ladscaping kept dieing off. This spring large pots.In WWII a Victory Garden was patriotic.Now in PC Amerika it is 1984 Nazi-commie PC in your face anti ‘we the people’. We are all ‘Winston Smith’ It is 1775.5 and 1860 all rolled in one.

  4. That’s absolutely sick! I find no words for such an act of “violance” against people who want to use their own garden for growing their own food!
    USA, the country of peace and freedom??!!

  5. Oh my god! That’s utterly insanity at its finest! This is what they are focusing on? And they received letters supporting the homeowners. What recourse do the home owners have? What options do they have aside from moving?

  6. It’s good, if true, (see comment by them) that the City of Orlando has suspended action on the Helvingston’s “code violation” code case. But its hardly enough. Orlando needs to immediately review and revise all of its anti-green codes and do things to encourage good environmental practices — not obstruct them with outdated mythologies.

    I suggest they read the piece I did on Sacramento’s experience (not known for being the most liberal city in America) – and consider the matter in depth:

  7. To grow a garden for food or beauty is superior to keeping city codes that do not supply food nor do they encourage beauty.

  8. I have a friend who grew up in Orlando several decades ago. In those days it was much nicer, smaller, affordable and family friendly. Over the years it has become crowded, expensive and focused on business / money. His whole family eventually moved to a city that puts people before money, is more medium sized and more open minded.

  9. The American Center for Law and Justice, and Jay Sekulow, may be able to guide this couple in this legal matter.

  10. What you’re seeing here is world-view paralysis. Remember The Truman Show… all the identical houses in perfect suburbs… making everyone feel comfortable. People opposing this couple have been crammed into a capitalist mindset and their tiny minds cannot interpret a vegetable garden other from the perpective of it’s effect on their property values. When I visited Floriday 15 years ago, I met a young coiuple holding a yard sale – they initially placed their offerings in their front yard until a neighbor called the cops to force them to move their ‘unsightly’ show into their back yard.

  11. I am pleased to read here that we are overwhelming in agreement that the paradigm of community edible gardens has shifted from the old Victorian concepts of “garden” — the old practices and codes being not only bad for the environment, but thwarting the new paradigms for healthier and flourishing communities.

    What remains is for us to all begin to educate our city councils on the new paradigms and what cities need to do to encourage front- and back-yard plantings of edibles, forming neighborhood veggie exchange coops and clubs and otherwise promoting healthy, useful home gardens.

    The one thing I disagree with is those comments that suggest fences and other methods of making such gardens “invisible”. One of the greatest values of home veggie gardens is that they are visible. That encourages gardeners to get to know one another, work cooperatively, take pride in their work and encourage others to get involved. When they are visible, home veggie and native plant gardening helps build community and make the more congenial, vibrant and safer places to be. So, hiding behind fences and such…uh, no.

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