City of Orlando allows man to keep front yard vegetable garden

City looks to change codes after man petitions for garden

COLLEGE PARK, Fla. – A College Park man's garden will continue to grow in his front yard after the city of Orlando was inundated with emails following a Local 6 story that generated national headlines.

The city of Orlando received hundreds of emails that focused on Jason Helvingston's 25-foot-by-25-foot front yard vegetable garden in College Park. 

And now, the city has decided not to pursue a violation against him.  Instead, city officials said they're trying to work out a solution, which could result in a change in the city's landscaping codes.

"The times are changing quicker than our codes can adapt, and so we're certainly looking at this as an opportunity to look at what the new standards should be," said Jon Ippel, the city's sustainability director.

Helvingston's front yard garden first gained national attention last week when he petitioned the city to keep his garden.

The city's landscape code never considered front yard food production, which raises concerns from aesthetics to storm runoff.

"If there's just bare land, and it rains, then that soil is going to wash into the streets and, therefore, go into the lake.  And that causes water quality issues for our lakes," said Ippel.

Focus groups will discuss the city's landscaping codes in the coming months to see what changes may need to be made to meet sustainability goals.

Last week, Helvingston told Local 6 that he was adamant about keeping his garden.

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

Turns out, Helvington will keep his radishes, wax beans and kale, and he may very well change the city code for others.

Watch Local 6 News for more on this story.