20:35 EST, 19 November 2013
02:13 EST, 20 November 2013
A patch of dirt planted with kale, cabbage and arugula has turned into a battlefield in the war between a Florida couple and the administration of their town.
For the past 17 years, Hermine Ricketts and her husband, Tom Carroll, have been growing vegetables in the front yard of their Miami Shores home.
But last May, town officials cracked down on the couple’s seemingly innocent hobby, accusing the amateur gardeners of breaking the law by growing vegetables in front of their home.
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Garden wars: Hermine Ricketts and her husband, Tom Carroll, said that the town of Miami Shores forced them to uproot their vegetable garden after nearly 20 years
Crackdown: The couple ended up pulling all the greens from the soil rather than face a fine of $50 a day
‘I politely asked the Village to leave me in peace and let me do my gardening, but they refused to do that,’ Ricketts told CBS Miami.
The couple have been forced to uproot all of their crops, leaving behind empty, neat rows of dirt and grass.
Miami Shores passed a zoning ordinance last spring banning vegetables from front yard gardens to protect ‘the distinctive character’ of the village, Florida Watchdog reported.
The town threatened to fine Ricketts and Carroll $50 a day, or $1,500 a month, if they refused to comply with the law by removing the greens from their property.
Ricketts and Carroll twice appeared in a local court to ask for an exemption, but their request has been denied.
Location, location, location: The couple chose to plant vegetables in front of the house because the backyard does not get enough sunlight
Natural beauty: Miami Shores passed a law barring residents from planting vegetables in their front yards to protect the aesthetic character of the town, but they can still grow flowers
Miss Ricketts, who is an artist, said that in its heyday, their small, well-maintained plot produced 80 per cent of everything they ate.
‘This law crushed out freedom to grown our own healthy food,’ Miss Ricketts said.
In response to the ordinance, the couple filed a lawsuit with the help of the Institute for Justice – a libertarian public-interest law firm, according to Miami Herald.
Attorney Ari Bargil said that the ban on front yard vegetable gardens has no rational basis. The lawyer told Florida Watchdog that the
village zoning ordinance violates the couple’s right to privacy under
the Florida State Constitution.
Growing controversy: Attorneys from the Institute for Justice filed a lawsuit on behalf of the couple claiming that the town’s ban on vegetable gardens in the front yard is unconstitutional
The town of Miami Shores allows residents to grow vegetables in their backyards, but Carroll and Rickett’s property is laid out in such a way that their backyard does not get enough sunlight to cultivate plants.
Miami Shores Vice Mayor Jesse Walters has expressed willingness to meet with the couple and discuss the situation face to face.