Front-yard vegetable garden supporters protest at Orlando City Hall

City looks to change codes after couple petitions for front-yard garden

ORLANDO, Fla. - Supporters for the city of Orlando allowing front-yard vegetable gardens protested outside of City Hall on Monday in hopes of keeping the city from imposing too many regulations in its new ordinance.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said at the council meeting on Monday that the concerns of the College Park couple, whose front-yard vegetable garden made headlines across the nation last year, will be taken into consideration as the city drafts a new proposed ordinance.

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Code enforcement officers threatened to fine Jason and Jennifer Helvenson for their garden. City officials later decided the rules governing gardens was too vague and newer rules needed to be established.

"Our goal is to help them create a sustainable city, the greenest city in America," said Jason Helvenston. "We're here to support that. We don't want to go to court over it."

The Helvenstons tell Local 6 they're glad the city is willing to allow front yard gardens, but they're concerned officials might impose too many restrictions, possibly limiting the garden to a quarter of the front yard, requiring a fence and outlawing taller crops.

The couple said they believe edible plants should be treated no differently than decorative landscaping.

"If you tell us we can't grow something over four or five feet, we're going to tell you no other plant can grow over four or five feet," Helvenston said.

It's not clear how long it will take for the proposed garden ordinance to be drawn up or the restrictions it will include. Before commissioners vote on it, the public will have an opportunity to comment.

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