A couple has been fined for having a garden in Orlando, Fla., and they face a charge of $500 a day. City officials claim it violates codes and must be removed. Jason and Jennifer Helvenston have started a protest and are encouraging neighbors to join them by creating their own gardens. The violations are based solely on aesthetic reasons because officials believe the Helvenston’s garden does not look finished.
“Jason and Jennifer Helvenston created a 25 by 25 foot garden in their front yard to provide vegetables for their family. They grow a variety of plants including kale, radishes, beans and others. They have always maintained the space and removed any dead plants. City officials initially contacted the couple about their garden in Nov. 2012. After multiple complaints about the unfair code rules, the Helvenstons were allowed to keep it. However, officials have contacted them again in Jan. 2013 to remove the garden.
The city of Orlando would like the Helvenston family to destroy their vegetable garden and replace it with a lawn. The couple has responded that this is their patriot garden and provides food for them. They believe they are not violating any laws or codes by keeping it. The city plans to inspect their garden again this week and wants to fine them $500 a day as long as the vegetables remain.
“The Helvenstons are ready to fight Orlando. The couple has been encouraging neighbors and other residents to plant their own gardens. They will also mail a packet of radish seeds to anyone who contacts them, so it will be easier for others to start their own vegetable gardens. The Helvenstons previously put together a petition that received hundreds of signatures to let them keep their garden. They have no plans to give in to the city’s demands and replace the front yard with grass.
“Jason and Jennifer Helvenston’s plight with Orlando officials highlights an ongoing issue that is being seen in other states across the country. As the economy continues to struggle, more families are turning to their own backyards and front lawns as possible vegetable garden sources. In addition, the constant list of recalls, E-coli concerns and other issues with food have made many families want their own organic vegetables. However, city ordinances are not always in agreement. The Helvenstons believe that the officials’ claims are unfounded, and their garden deserves to stay because it is private property.