Government intensifies persecution of gardeners in attempt to criminalize self-sufficiency
Home gardening is a deep-rooted (pun intended) American tradition. Since the nation’s beginnings, gardens have formed an integral part of the landscape, providing healthy, fresh food for millions of families.
Home gardens are a way to save money, increase self-sufficiency and make sure the food we eat is organically grown and free of pesticides and other chemicals.
Unfortunately, there has been a growing trend towards criminalizing home gardeners, but the good news is that more and more of them are successfully fighting back against government attempts to pronounce home gardening as an illegal activity.
A recent article published by GovtSlaves.info explored several cases in which citizens were told their home gardens violating the law. In all of these stories, the home gardeners decided to stand up for their rights and were generally successful in challenging the legal rulings against them as well as raising awareness and gaining support among the rest of the citizenry.
The first case tells the story of Tom Carroll and Hermine Ricketts, a Miami Shores Village, Florida, couple who have planted an organic garden in their front yard for the past 17 years.
In 2013, Miami Shores authorities ordered Carroll and Ricketts to uproot their garden or face fines of $50 per day on the grounds that it violated a recently amended zoning ordinance regarding “home aesthetics.”
Carroll and Ricketts decided to stand up for their rights. They lost the first battle against the Miami Shores Code Enforcement Board, which ruled against the couple. They were then forced to uproot the garden to avoid the fines.
However, Carroll and Ricketts continued to seek justice. They enlisted the the help of the Institute for Justice, an Arlington, Virginia-based public interest law firm that was getting ready to launch its National Food Freedom Initiative to “defend Americans’ food choices from arbitrary regulations.”
An unconstitutional attack on property rights
The Institute for Justice filed a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Carroll and Ricketts. Lead counsel in the case, Ari Bargil, was quoted as saying:
Miami Shores is now ground zero in a debate raging nationwide about property rights. If the government can tell you what you can grow on your property, what can’t it do?
The city of Miami Shores has attempted to have the lawsuit dismissed, but in May 2014, an 11th Judicial Circuit Judge ruled that the lawsuit could proceed. A decision in the case could be reached this summer.
Another case detailed in the article is that of Jason and Jennifer Helvenston of Orlando, Florida, who faced $500 per day fines for growing vegetables in their front yard. The story of the Helvenstons’ fight against the authorities went viral and earned them the support of thousands of people while gaining national attention in the press.
The controversy led to new laws legalizing front yard gardens in Orlando as long as they don’t cover more than 60 percent of the yard or are placed next to a public right-of-way.
Another success story involved Karl Tricamo of Ferguson, Missouri, who planted a vegetable garden in his front yard. When authorities charged him with violating city codes, Tricamo turned to the non-profit Freedom Center of Missouri for assistance in fighting the citation.
The Ferguson Board of Adjustment eventually ruled 4-1 in favor of Tricamo, and the case was dismissed.
Growing food is a right that should be defended, and these cases have shown that the criminalization of home gardening can be successfully challenged at the local level. Let’s send a message to the authorities that we as citizens will never give up the right to plant home gardens.
It is difficult to imagine anything more American than raising one’s own food, and it’s difficult to imagine anything more un-American than telling someone that they are not allowed to do so.