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Florida city uproots couple’s 17-year-old garden, over new ordinance

Few things in life are as benign as a home vegetable garden.

But for the residents of Miami Shores, Fla., growing veggies can land you a fine — the type you eventually can’t afford.

That’s what happened to Hermine Ricketts and her husband, Tom Carroll. For the past 17 years they’ve grown a garden in the front yard of their modest South Florida home. The backyard, they say, doesn’t get enough sunlight.

But in May, the city put the couple’s garden, and any others like it, in their legal crosshairs.

A new zoning ordinance designed to “protect the distinctive character of the Miami Shores Village,” was enacted and specifically prohibited vegetables – not fruit, trees or even plastic flamingos – from appearing in front yards.

Shortly after, the couple received a visit from their local code enforcement officer. They were given two choices: Uproot the garden or pay a $50 per day fine to keep it.

After twice appearing before the Miami Shores Code Enforcement Board and being denied an exemption, the couple decided to dig up the garden rather than fork over $1,500 a month to the city.

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