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A Florida city where vegetable gardens are zoned out

It is about a three-hour drive south from Brevard County to Miami Shores, Florida. The village is known as a combination bedroom community and destination for retired folks. It has also become known as the place that doesn't allow residents to grow vegetable gardens.

The trouble with veggies began four years ago when Miami Shores banned the vegetable gardens and said it would fine people for each day they failed to comply with the ordinance. A state court last year upheld the ban -- which is part of the city's zoning regulations -- deciding that the city had the authority to decide that vegetable gardens are ugly and unwanted.

A state appeals court recently heard the case and pointed out that residents of Miami Gardens can have lots of things in their yards, including "garden gnomes, pink flamingos and trolls . . . boats and jet skis . . . whatever trees, flowers, shrubs, grasses, fruits and berries they desire." They can have virtually anything in their yards but vegetable gardens, the court decided.

A recent news article on the matter points out that the appeals court's decision says, in effect, that though the Miami Shores property owners whose garden grows at the center of the controversy made a "compelling" argument, their only recourse to the garden ban is to vote for officials who will lift the prohibition.

An attorney for the couple said, “This decision holds that (it's) perfectly rational for a City to prohibit vegetable gardens, while permitting virtually everything else."

The author of the article is also the author of the recently published book, "Biting the Hands that Feed Us: How Fewer, Smarter Laws Would Make Our Food System More Sustainable." He writes that there are many other examples of "draconian zoning rules" that prohibit gardens in communities around the nation.

While it's certainly true that major changes to zoning are carried out at the ballot box, micro changes can be sought and obtained by homeowners and business owners with the help of an attorney experienced in land use and zoning issues.

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