Judge Told Front Yard Garden Ban a Travesty

     (CN) – A South Florida couple finally had their day in court last week over a Village of Miami Shores ordinance they claim violates their constitutional right to have a vegetable garden in their front yard.
     Hermine Ricketts and Tom Carroll sued the village in November 2013, claiming they had grown their vegetable garden at their Miami Shores home for 17 years, but had to dig it up in August 2013 after town officials threatened to fine them $50 a day if they refused to do it.
     They said a then-new town ordinance that limits vegetable gardens to backyards was adopted by the Miami Shores Village Council as part of a zoning plan.
     At a hearing on Wednesday before Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Monica Gordo, attorney Ari Bargil who works for the Institute for Justice in Arlington Va., a non-profit libertarian public interest firm, said that the ban violates the couple’s property rights and the “Equal Protection Clause” by singling out vegetables over plants.
     “We’re not saying you can do anything you want on your property,” Bargil told Judge Gordo. “We are simply saying you can grow vegetables on your property and that is protected by the Constitution.
     Richard Sarafan, the attorney for Miami Shores, said that the new zoning rule treats all homeowners the same. However, he said that their front yards should be covered with grass, sod or a “living ground cover,” and that they can grow a vegetable garden in the backyard.
     “There certainly is not fundamental right to grow vegetables in your front yard,” Sarafan said. “Aesthetics and uniformity are legitimate government purposes. Not every property can lawfully be used for every purpose.”
     Carroll said during Wednesday’s hearing that they grew their garden of about 75 varieties of vegetables using organic practices, and that they never used pesticides.
     “It’s important that we have the right to do something on our own property,” Carroll said. “We’re just trying to grow vegetables.”
     According to The Miami Herald, Carroll and Ricketts are not looking for any compensation; they are suing for $1. They only want to be able to grow a vegetable garden in their front yard.
     The Mayor of the Village of Miami Shores, Alice Burch, said that they do not have any comments on the lawsuit.

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