Andrew Wimer
Andrew Wimer · May 1, 2019

Tallahassee, Fla.—Today, the Florida House passed a bill to protect the right of all Floridians to grow vegetables and fruit on their own property. With the House’s passage of the bill, SB 82, the bill moves on to the governor’s desk for signature. Once the bill takes effect, any local ordinance that expressly limits or prohibits growing vegetables on one’s own property will be “void and unenforceable.”

In 2013, the Institute for Justice (IJ) filed a lawsuit against the Village of Miami Shores, Florida, to challenge their prohibition on front-yard vegetable gardens. The lawsuit, brought by IJ on behalf of Miami Shores couple Hermine Ricketts and Tom Carroll, sought for the village’s ordinance to be struck down as an unconstitutional violation of property rights. Florida’s Third District Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Village. The Florida Supreme Court ultimately declined to hear the case, though the battle over the right to use your property peacefully and productively continued.

“This bill eliminates the ability of local governments to enact senseless laws targeting basic acts of self-sufficiency under the pretense of ‘aesthetics,’” said IJ attorney Ari Bargil, who represented Hermine and Tom in their battle against the Village. “By signing this bill, the governor will reaffirm that Florida is a state that respects both basic property rights and constitutionally protected civil liberties. I applaud the Florida Legislature, particularly sponsors Rob Bradley and Elizabeth Fetterhoff, for their work in the passage of this bill, and I look forward to its signing by Governor DeSantis.”

“After almost six years of fighting, I am relieved that my right to grow my own garden, on my own property, is finally going to be protected,” said IJ client Hermine Ricketts. “Before all of this started, I depended heavily on my garden to provide both a restorative hobby and a source of nourishment. Once it was taken from me, my health suffered severely. I am looking forward to the time that I can once again grow my own food, for my own consumption, without having to worry that an overzealous code enforcement officer will try to fine me into destitution.”

“The passage of Florida’s Vegetable Gardens bill marks an important moment for food freedom in America,” said IJ Senior Attorney Michael Bindas, the head of IJ’s Food Freedom Initiative. “By protecting the right to grow your own food, the state of Florida has established a valuable protection for not just Hermine and Tom, but for all Floridians who want greater control over the foods they grow and consume. Nobody should face daily fines for trying to use their property to eat a healthier diet.”