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Florida homeowners statewide now can plant vegetable gardens

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed legislation that returns a right to homeowners. They now can grow vegetables in their yards.

Florida had allowed local governments to enact ordinances that prohibited people from planting vegetable gardens. While flower gardens were allowed, some towns and municipalities across the state had banned vegetable gardens for aesthetic reasons. The new law took effect July 1.

The legislature got involved after a couple living in Miami Shores Village was fined $50 a day for having a vegetable garden in their front yard. The couple decided to fight City Hall, and the case made its way through the Florida courts. Judges sided with the towns, despite the couple's contention that their garden offered both health and financial benefits.

State Sen. Rob Bradley of Fleming Island sponsored the Senate bill that, in effect, nullifies court rulings in the Miami Shores Village case. Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff, who represents DeLand, sponsored the companion bill in the House.

Bradley told the Miami Herald in March that it was time for a shift in the law. "The world is changing when it comes to food. There's a big interest when it comes to locally sourced food or organic products," he said. "It is our role, our duty to review decisions that are made in the courts that uphold local government actions that violate property rights in the State of Florida ... When you own a piece of property, you should be able to grow food on that property for your family's consumption."

The new law affects only decisions made by municipalities and counties. It does not apply to homeowners associations, which can make their own rules.

Property owners should have the right to enjoy their property as they see fit, as long as they aren't encroaching on others' rights. It may we wise to consult a real estate attorney when proposed zoning laws or other instances threaten to affect that right.

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