Vegetable garden bill gets green light

Senators voted 35-5 to support measure sponsored by Sen. Rob Bradley

By The News Service of Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - In an issue stemming from a legal dispute in South Florida, the Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a bill that would prevent local governments from regulating homeowners’ vegetable gardens.

Senators voted 35-5 to support the measure (SB 82), sponsored by Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island.

Bradley took up the issue after a dispute between homeowners Hermine Ricketts and Laurence Carroll and the village of Miami Shores over an ordinance that banned front-yard vegetable gardens.

The couple had maintained a front-yard garden for nearly two decades but uprooted their vegetables when faced with the possibility of fines. They challenged the constitutionality of the ordinance but lost in court, with the Florida Supreme Court last year declining to take up the issue.

On Thursday, Bradley described local-government efforts to prevent homeowners from growing vegetables and fruit as a “vast overreach.”

But Sen. Bobby Powell, a West Palm Beach Democrat who opposed the bill, suggested it was an overreach by the state to prevent local governments throughout Florida from having such regulations.

Other opponents of the bill were Sen. Lori Berman, D-Lantana; Sen. Randolph Bracy, D-Orlando; Sen. Gary Farmer, D-Fort Lauderdale; and Sen. Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale.

A House version of the bill (HB 145), filed by Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff, R-DeLand, has been approved by one committee.

News Service of Florida