Miami Shores Couple to Village: Let Us Grow Our Vegetable Garden

Courtesy of Institute for Justice
Tom Carroll and Hermine Ricketts are fighting city hall.
For 21 years, Hermine Ricketts and Tom Carroll have lived in a modest three-bedroom house in Miami Shores, a quiet village of about 10,000 residents with well-maintained houses and well-manicured lawns. There, the married couple grew vegetables on their front lawn for nearly two decades.

Ricketts, a retired architect, tells Short Order that she planted the garden, a combination of both edible produce and nonedible florals, to maintain a healthy lifestyle. "Look at the condition of the food we're buying now. The only way we can be sure of what we eat is to grow it ourselves.You can't get any more local than eating vegetables from your front yard."

See also: Potted Garden in Your Yard? Prepare to Pay a Fine!

She says in all the years of maintaining her garden, which changed seasonally, she never had any complaints. To the contrary, the garden, which contained everything from cabbage to strawberries, started conversations and helped make friends. "The only thing I've gotten about the garden are compliments. I share the produce with some of my neighbors, and it creates friendship and neighborliness."

Ricketts says she planted her garden in the front yard was because there was a lack of sun behind the house. "I spent years trying to grow beets in the back. Now they're growing beautifully. Beets are beautiful, by the way. They have wonderful red leaves."

Then, in early 2013, Miami Shores adopted a zoning ordinance banning front-yard vegetable gardens.

The ordinance states only:

(a) All green space shall be planted with grass, sod, or living ground cover and a minimum of two trees. (b) The use of impervious material as ground cover shall be prohibited except for areas dedicated to vehicular driveways, patios, tennis courts or pool decks. Chatahoochie stone or similar materials shall not be substituted for grass, sod or living ground cover. (c) A boat storage area of 200 square feet surfaced by gravel rock of one-half inch diameter, or greater, shall be permitted. (d) Use of mulch as ground cover to enhance the growth of an adjacent shrub or tree is permitted in green spaces however; cypress mulch, shell, crushed stone pebbles, inorganic mulch, plastic, rubber and glass shall not be used. (e) Vegetable gardens are permitted in rear yards only.

Asked for further clarification about the ordinance, Miami Shores' Village Manager Tom Benton told Short Order: "We don't comment on pending litigation."

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Charles Walter
Charles Walter

I'd like to hear why the village put in place the ordinance. Is it just to preserve a random view of aesthetics, or are they looking after safety, pest control, rotting food? Hopefully there can be some compromise.

Peter Perez
Peter Perez

Thats same reason i sold my home in shores 17 years ago and all i had was tomato miami shores sucks

Tom Dub Yeah
Tom Dub Yeah

Too much Government! Uncle Sam stay out of my garden!

Vanessa Safie
Vanessa Safie

She's so right, "...At a certain point, government needs to back off if you're not harming anyone..."

Vanessa Safie
Vanessa Safie

Miami Shores can suck it. You know how WE feel about this. #growfoodnotlawns :)

Kai Mato
Kai Mato

Vanessa Safie Tom Dub Yeah

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