College Park man fights to keep vegetable garden in front yard

Orlando says garden against city code

Published On: Nov 07 2012 06:45:51 PM EST   Updated On: Nov 13 2012 06:57:28 PM EST
Garden
ORLANDO, Fla. -

An Orlando man is fighting city officials to keep his vegetable garden in his front yard.

You have to step over radishes, wax beans and kale to get to Jason Helvingston's front door in College Park.

However, his 25 x 25 foot micro-irrigated vegetable garden is against city code, and the city of Orlando has asked Helvingston to dig it up by Wednesday.

[UPDATE: City allows man to keep veggie garden, considers changing law]

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"I said, 'You'll take my house before you take my vegetable garden,'" he said.  "There's nothing wrong here, there's nothing poisonous here.  This is a sustainable plot of land."

City code requires ground covers to be planted in a way that gives off a finished appearance so neighborhood lawns are clean, and inviting -- keeping property values up.

Helvingston has decided not to listen to the city.  Instead, he's trying to petition the code to allow for veggie gardens in the front yard.

He's gathered more than 200 signatures, including one from his neighbor, Shelly Snow.

"(I'm) definitely not bothered by it.  As a matter of fact, we love it," she said.

Helvingston hopes the city will reconsider the code when he meets with a code board in December.

"This is another example of the government telling us what we can do with our own property -- that should never happen," he said. "In any economic downturn in the past history of the United States, the government has always encouraged the people to grow their own food, and so we want to continue with that movement."

Other College Park residents tell Local 6 they're worried the city may come after them about their gardens.

Greg Clifton tells Local 6 he is growing 1/4 of an acre of vegetables in his backyard.

"But I have every intention of using my front yard as a garden and I think the more I can grow the better it is," Clifton told Local 6.

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