Andrew Wimer
Andrew Wimer · June 25, 2019

Tallahassee, Fla.—Yesterday, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed SB 82, legislation protecting the right of all Floridians to grow vegetables and fruit on their own property. For one Miami-area couple, this represents the end of a years-long struggle that started when their town ordered them to dig up the garden they had been growing for 17 years. Starting July 1, 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 on behalf of Hermine Ricketts and Tom Carroll seeking to strike down the Village of Miami Shores’ prohibition on front yard gardens 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 in the Florida legislature.

“When the Institute for Justice heard that a local government was waging a senseless fight against Hermine and Tom’s vegetable garden, we were glad to come to their aid,” said IJ Attorney Ari Bargil. “When the courts refused to stand up for their rights, we didn’t give up, and this new law is the result of persistent advocacy. Hermine and Tom are free to replant their garden, a right they now share with every other Floridian. I’m looking forward to seeing new life planted in the front yard next week.”

“After nearly six years of fighting, next week I will once again be able to legally plant vegetables in my front yard,” said IJ client Hermine Ricketts. “I’m grateful to the legislature and the governor for standing up to protect my freedom to grow healthy food on my own property. What is sad is that this fight even needed to be waged in the courts and the capital. We had a beautiful, nutritious garden for many years before the Village went out of its way to ban it and then threatened us with ruinous fines. Finally, the state has ended a senseless assault on our property rights.”

IJ Senior Attorney Michael Bindas, the head of IJ’s Food Freedom Initiative, commented on the signing: “For years, Hermine and Tom’s garden was ground zero in a larger battle being fought all over the country. While their battle is now finally over, many Americans like Hermine and Tom are still struggling against the local, state or federal government to secure greater control over the foods they grow, sell or consume. IJ will continue to fight on behalf of folks like Hermine and Tom to secure greater food freedom for all Americans.”

Hermine and Tom are planning to hold a ceremonial replanting of their vegetable garden on Monday, July 1 at 10:00 a.m. at their home: 53 NE 106th St. Miami Shores, FL 33138. Members of the media are invited to view the replanting and speak with the couple and attorney Ari Bargil about the long fight to restore their garden. Please RSVP to Andrew Wimer, IJ Assistant Communications Director, at (703) 682-9320 x229 or [email protected].