Couple Fined for Having Garden: Florida to Impose $500 a Day Fine for Growing Vegetables

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(Photo: REUTERS/Rebecca Cook)Whole Foods grocery store worker Adam Pacheco (L) stacks vegetables while customers shop in the produce section at the Whole Foods grocery story in Ann Arbor, Michigan, March 8, 2012.

A couple could be fined for having a vegetable garden in their front yard, and have been given a deadline of Thursday to destroy it or be faced with a $500 a day fine.

Jason and Jennifer Helvenston, from Florida, have been warned they could face a fine of up to $500 a day if they have not removed their vegetable garden by Thursday. It has been found that they are violating a local Orlando City Code that says people are prohibited from using their front gardens to grow vegetables.

However, the Helvenstons are refusing to back down and have started a protest against the restrictions, saying it violates their right to grow their own food, according to Click Orlando.

The couple have launched the "Plant a Seed, Change the Law" initiative, which is a formal protest against the local gardening restrictions they have been found to be breaking.

The Helvenstons were told back in November by Florida officials that they were violating the rules. However, news of the couple's plight spread quickly and the city was flooded with letters and emails protesting, demanding that they be allowed to grow vegetables in their front garden if they wished. That wave of protests moved city officials to postpone any move against the Helvenstons temporarily. However, it now appears they are moving on the violations again and have given the couple until Thursday to remove their vegetable garden.

Jason Helvenston has said, "The greatest freedom you can give someone is the freedom to know they will not go hungry. Our Patriot Garden pays for all of its costs in healthy food and lifestyle while having the lowest possible carbon footprint. It supplies valuable food while being attractive. I really do not understand why there is even a discussion. They will take our house before they take our Patriot Garden."

Ari Bargil, an attorney for the Institute of Justice, has confirmed that the couple can be fined up to $500 a day from Thursday if the garden is not dug up and destroyed. He has offered his assistance to the couple, saying: "We are seriously interested in taking a look at this. We're focused on helping the Helvenstons get the word out, encouraging the city to reach a sensible compromise here."