Police in cities and towns throughout the country are taking an unusual action by cracking down on home vegetable gardens. The most recent instance came in Miami,Shores, Flor., where police threatened a couple with fines totaling $50 per day until they uprooted their vegetable garden.
A new zoning ordinance designed to “protect the distinctive character of the Miami Shores Village” specifically prohibited vegetables from appearing in front yards. That affected local couple Hermine Rickets and Tom Carroll, who had a garden in the front of their home for 17 years. A local code enforcement officer threatened them with fines unless they uprooted it; After twice appearing before the Miami Shores Code Enforcement Board and being denied an exemption, the couple was forced to dig up the garden because they couldn’t afford the fines.
However, this was not an isolated incident. A woman in Michigan was threatened with 93 days in jail back in July 2011 for refusing to dig up her front yard raised vegetable beds. Two months later, a Tennessee teacher was given a citation for using his home garden to teach kids about compost, biodiesel and solar power. In May 2012, a Massachusetts couple was threatened with a $300 per day fine if they didn’t remove tomato plants from their yard that were being used to give to their local food bank.
A separate Florida couple, Jason and Jennifer Helveston, were threatened with a $500 per day fine if they didn’t uproot their vegetable garden because it had an “unfinished appearance.” An Oklahoma woman also had her garden bulldozed last year over having plants that were “too tall.”