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New Florida Law on Home Gardens Banishes Local Ordinances

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A well-maintained food garden yields a half-pound of produce per square foot per growing season, according to the National Gardening Association. (Pixabay)
A well-maintained food garden yields a half-pound of produce per square foot per growing season, according to the National Gardening Association. (Pixabay)
 By Trimmel Gomes - Producer, Contact
July 1, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — As of today, Florida property owners can grow fresh produce in their yards without fear of local government restrictions. Gov. Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 82 last week, which prohibits local governments from banning vegetable gardens on any part of a residential property.

The law takes effect today, July 1. The issue sprung up after a couple in Miami Shores Village unsuccessfully contested in Florida courts a $50-a-day fine for their long-time front-yard vegetable garden.

Kitty Wallace, co-founder of the Coalition of Community Gardens of Tampa Bay, said she supports the idea of encouraging planting more fruits and vegetables, but worries it could backfire by taking power away from local communities.

"Because I grow all my own vegetables in my garden, I'm supportive of this legislation,” Wallace said. “But I have mixed feelings."

The Florida Supreme Court ruled in favor of Miami Shores' right to control design and landscaping standards, and the couple replaced their vegetables with pink flamingos. But Republican Sen. Rob Bradley called the village's action a "vast overreach," and sponsored the bill, which effectively voids the court rulings.

Wallace said she was expecting citizens of Miami Shores would simply make note of the unusual restriction by their local government, and vote them out later.

"You know, vote out those people and vote in new people that were going to change the ordinance,” she said. “But it just rose to the state level really quickly. Sometimes, these types of laws take many legislative sessions to make it in and out of committee and to the governor's desk, but this thing — zip, zip, zip!"

According to the National Gardening Association, about a third of all U.S. households grow at least some of their own food. The group said a 600-square-foot garden that costs around $70 a year to cultivate can grow 300 pounds of fresh produce worth about $600 annually.

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