Hermine Ricketts: A Hero for Food Freedom

Being an IJ client takes courage. It means being principled, steadfast, and good-humored in the face of adversity. It means fighting City Hall and taking real risks in order to stand up for your rights—and for the rights of others. Hermine Ricketts, who passed away peacefully in August after a years-long battle with illness, was that kind of client.

Liberty & Law readers may recall the case Ricketts v. Miami Shores, in which IJ partnered with Hermine and her husband, Tom Carroll, to challenge the town’s senseless ban on front-yard vegetable gardens. The case was one of the first in IJ’s National Food Freedom Initiative, a campaign that brings property rights, economic liberty, and free speech challenges to laws that interfere with Americans’ ability to produce, market, and consume the foods of their choice.

Hermine’s case was challenging. But throughout the litigation, she remained unwaveringly optimistic and committed to securing important legal precedent so that others could enjoy the basic freedoms which she had been denied. Even when the Florida Supreme Court declined to hear the case—thus signaling an unsuccessful end to the litigation—she remained confident that sanity would eventually prevail. She knew all Floridians should be permitted to grow food on their own property, and she was dedicated to changing the law to make it possible.

Thanks to Hermine’s determination, the Florida Legislature took note. Just weeks before her passing, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill that declared Miami Shores’ ordinance, and any ordinance like it in Florida, to be “void and unenforceable.” When the law went into effect in July, Tom and Hermine began replanting their garden.

Growing vegetables in her garden was a welcome creative outlet for Hermine, who worked as an architect, as well as a place for her to grow healthy food. She explained in an interview earlier this summer, “A garden is a healthy place. You are on the earth, touching the soil, the grass. You get a new appreciation. It’s just wonderful.”

Thanks to Hermine Ricketts, Floridians can enjoy the right to peacefully and productively use their own property to feed their families and refresh their spirits. All of us at IJ are so glad to have had the opportunity to be her partner to make that happen.

Ari Bargil is an IJ attorney. 

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