Judge Denies Miami Shores’ Motion to Dismiss Front-Yard Vegetable Garden Lawsuit

J. Justin Wilson
J. Justin Wilson · May 7, 2014

Miami, Fla.—Today, a judge with the 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida denied Miami Shores’ motion to dismiss Hermine Ricketts and Tom Carroll’s challenge to the Village’s ban on front-yard vegetable gardens. Today’s ruling by Judge Spencer Eig means that the lawsuit, which was filed in November 2013 by the Institute for Justice (IJ) on behalf of Hermine and Tom, will move forward to a final judgment.

In March 2013, Miami Shores adopted a zoning ordinance banning front-yard vegetable gardens. Only vegetables are banned—trees, fruit and garden gnomes are fine. The ban has affected Hermine and Tom, a married couple who used their front-yard garden to grow vegetables and other plants for 17 years. Miami Shores told Hermine and Tom to destroy their garden or face fines of $50 per day. Unable to bear the cost of the fines, they dug up their garden.

“Miami Shores’ ban on front-yard vegetable gardens doesn’t make any sense. A yard does not become unsightly just because you can eat some of the things you grow there,” said IJ attorney and lead counsel on the case, Ari Bargil. “Today’s ruling means Hermine and Tom will have the opportunity to prove in court that the Village’s prohibition on front-yard vegetable gardens is also unconstitutional.”

Watch a short video on the case

“Our point is simple,” explained Bargil. “The Florida Constitution protects the property rights of homeowners like Hermine and Tom, who want to use their property in a peaceful, productive manner without arbitrary intrusion by the government. We look forward to not only vindicating our clients’ rights, but to securing a ruling that protects that right for the benefit of all Floridians.”

The case has brought international attention to an issue that affects all Americans: our food. “Hermine and Tom are part of a nationwide movement of small-scale food producers and consumers who are tired of the government dictating what foods they can grow, sell and eat,” said IJ Senior Attorney Michael Bindas, who heads IJ’s National Food Freedom Initiative. “This isn’t just about Hermine and Tom’s front-yard garden. This is about the right of all Americans to peacefully use their own property to support themselves and their families.”