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Saturday Slam #4

From Orlando, Florida comes a story about Jennifer and Jason Helvenston and the problems they have encountered growing their own food from a garden established in their own front yard.

You would have thought the right to grow food for personal use would be as inalienable as say, oh lets see, the second amendment right to shot a stranger for thou shalt not trespass. Apparently not.

The weekly spotlight of the Saturday Slam shines upon the City of Orlando for enforcing a silly and unsustainable city ordinance.

Our story begins with an article from Mother Earth News:

…For [the] Helvenstons of Orlando, Fla., their front yard garden has become a battleground, pitting food self-sufficiency against city ordinance…

Jennifer and Jason Helvenston’s Front Yard - Credit Mother Earth News photo
Jennifer and Jason Helvenston’s Front Yard – Credit Mother Earth News photo

…The Helvenstons’ 25-square-foot micro-irrigated front yard garden is in contrast to other yards in [the complainant’s] neighborhood, where a “finished” and “inviting” appearance is mandatory. Their backyard chickens have not been called into question, with only the front garden coming under scrutiny. The City has asked them to remove their garden patch…

We emailed the Mayor of Orlando stating our surprise at the silliness of this particular city ordinance and in fairness to the Office of the Mayor we received this reply on Wednesday December 5th.

Dear Citizen,

(Politically correct, wouldn’t you agree Dear Reader.)

Thank you for reaching out to us on the topic of residential
gardening. The City of Orlando is committed to environmental
responsibility and encourages the use of vegetable gardens as a
sustainable source of producing food.

While media reports may have inaccurately led you to believe the City
has an ordinance against vegetable gardens, nothing could be further
from the truth. The City is working with the property owner to
address a concern shared by a neighbor regarding lack of ground cover

This code helps the City maintain standard levels that help keep property values up for residents and creates an inviting atmosphere for neighbors. However, our existing landscape code never contemplated front yard food production…

On November 28 the Halvensten’s posted an update on their struggle whereby they were informed that as is their front yard garden would not be acceptable to the City of Orlando.

It seems mandating the Halvenstens, at not an insignificant expense, to erect an ordinance satisfying fence shielding the offensive garden from public scrutiny may pacify the offended neighbour and buy the City time in which they can continue to contemplate front yard food production.

Seems building fences is quite the fashion.

Patriot Gardens
Patriot Gardens

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