Harvest time: Front-yard vegetable gardens now legal in Florida

Veg garden
Local regulation of front yard gardens is now null and void.

The second time – or year – was the charm for a bill that will legalize front yard vegetable gardens in Florida.

On Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed SB 82 into law. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Rob Bradley of Fleming Island, renders “void and unenforceable” local jurisdiction over front yard gardens.

“When I learned that the bill was signed I got artichoked up. Local governments will no longer be able to squash our freedom to grow vegetables on our land,” Bradley said, continuing a tradition of puns on this subject.

Jokes aside, the bill is serious for Bradley, and Floridians. The goal is to facilitate “the development of sustainable cultivation of vegetables and fruits at all levels of production, including for personal consumption.”

The issue attained statewide prominence when a Miami Shores couple sued for the right to plant a vegetable garden in their front yard. While they had cultivated their garden for two decades, code enforcement made its move earlier this decade.

National commentators commented on that “egregious overreach.” For Bradley, the issue was elemental, one of property rights.

“I feel strongly that the government should not have the power to fine a citizen for growing their own food on their own property,” he told us when he filed the bill months back.

Bradley added that “home rule is not a blank check to stomp on the fundamental rights of citizens. The Legislature has a role to play in protecting individual rights from unreasonable intrusion by government.”

First-term Republican Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff carried the House companion, a heavy lift since the bill did not get a hearing in the House in 2018.

As was the case for Bradley, Fetterhoff saw the issue as one of personal liberty.

“In some areas of our state, local governments place arbitrary restrictions on their citizens’ right to provide for themselves using their own private property,” Fetterhoff said when she filed the House bill.

“Home rule is very important to me.  There should always be an initial deference to local control at the beginning of any policy debate.  However, when the discussion becomes one of home rule versus fundamental and Constitutional rights, I will proudly fight for our rights every time,” Fetterhoff added.

The bill had little trouble in either the Senate or the House. The Senate passed it 35-5, and the House passed it 93-16.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


10 comments

  • jan norman

    June 25, 2019 at 1:56 pm

    Does this bill bypass HOA restrictions?

  • SHOOT ME.

    Do you have any idea how PATHETIC this makes the average Floridian look?

    I mean, the State legislature has to intervene in order to rescue simple home-growing farmers from the rapacious reach of local Code Enforcement? My kid can’t plant radishes on our front lawn without permission from the local government? Does Junior have to rely on the benign “wink-wink” from Officer Friendly to do what it is his RIGHT to do?

    Shoot me. No, even better, vote Libertarian. (it is later than you think).

    Larry Gillis, Cape Coral

    • James B Wood IV

      June 25, 2019 at 9:28 pm

      Florida man is a thing (embarrassment) for a reason. We are a little nutty down here; most that live here are not actually from here. And some of those that are not from here have ideas from somewhere else and a lot of time on their hands. . .

      • VHR

        June 29, 2019 at 11:38 am

        Florida Man exists simply because the state of Florida is one of a handful that has open police records, even for arrests. If other states had the same, we’d read the same crazy crap about their residents too.

  • Jim

    June 26, 2019 at 12:13 pm

    Marijuana is a vegetable.

  • Anu

    June 26, 2019 at 4:31 pm

    Does this change HOA/ MPOA restrictions around gardening. Forget about front yard, backyard also I can’t plant a fruit. Need advise. Thanks

  • anne

    July 1, 2019 at 7:55 am

    What about egg laying chickens? Some places allow 4. I think it is nice that people, including families with children can finally learn how to take care of themselves without running to the store every day…and getting ‘fresh’ vegetables and fruit’ grown at home is a plus!

    • anne

      July 1, 2019 at 7:59 am

      Have snobby neighbors with well-landscaped manicured lawns?…watch out, they’ll hire someone to make their gardens more beautiful than yours! ha

    • anne

      July 1, 2019 at 8:01 am

      PS… your kids act bored? or have been on the ipads and screen time too long? — send them outdoors in the sunshine to pull weeds, plant and/or water the garden!

Comments are closed.


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