State Judge Upholds Miami Shores’ Ban On Front-Yard Vegetable Gardens

Institute for Justice · August 25, 2016

Miami, Fla.—Today, in a blow to property rights, a judge with the 11th Judicial Circuit of Florida has upheld the Village of Miami Shores’ ban on front-yard vegetable gardens. This means homeowners Hermine Ricketts and Tom Carroll—and others like them—will not be allowed to grow their garden to provide food for themselves. Hermine and Tom are represented by the Institute for Justice (IJ), which first challenged the ban in November 2013.

“Today’s ruling affects every homeowner in Miami Shores who wants to grow a garden in their front yard,” explains IJ Attorney Ari Bargil, who argued in court on behalf of Hermine and Tom. “The court agreed that Miami Shores never explained how banning front-yard vegetable gardens promotes its claimed interest in ‘aesthetics,’ but the court nevertheless ruled that the village has the power to ban these gardens anyway.”

“I am disappointed by today’s ruling,” said IJ client Hermine Ricketts. “My garden not only provided us with food, but it was also beautiful and added character to the community. I look forward to continuing this fight and ultimately winning so I can once again use my property productively instead of being forced to have a useless lawn.”

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 immediately impacted Hermine and Tom, a married couple who had 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.

“If Hermine and Tom wanted to grow fruit or flowers or display pink flamingos, Miami Shores would have been completely fine with it,” continued Bargil. “They should be equally free to grow food for their own consumption, which they did for 17 years before the village forced them to uproot the very source of their sustenance.”

The case has brought international attention to an issue that affects all Americans: our food. Michael Bindas, an IJ senior attorney and director of IJ’s National Food Freedom Initiative, vowed to appeal the ruling. “We will appeal this decision to make clear that all Americans have the right to use their property, peacefully and productively, to feed themselves and their families.”