Orlando officials to vote on front-yard vegetable garden ordinance

College Park man will keep garden

ORLANDO, Fla. - After a year-long battle with the city of Orlando, a College Park gardener will keep his front-yard vegetable garden.

"It's amazing, it'll grow anywhere," said Jason Helvenston, talking about the "buffer bush" he planted on the edge of his property.  It's one of the changes he's made to his garden that will allow him to keep it.

"We actually made circular aisle ways for ourselves to access our vegetables," he said.

The city asked Helvenston to dig up the garden last year, saying he was violating city code.

He fought, and his story received national attention. Now, the city is changing its code.

An ordinance that sets guidelines for front-yard gardens is going before the city council for its first reading on Monday.

"We wanted to make sure we have clear standards of what is allowed and what is not allowed," said John Ippel, the city's sustainability director.

The ordinance says 60 percent of the front yard can be a garden, gives a list of approved trees and plants, requires gardeners to remove dead and overgrown plants, and sets a 5 foot height requirement for structures, such as tomato cages.

"We're grateful that we're finally going to be able to keep our garden after a year, but the city could have just said that a year ago," said Helvenston.

The ordinance will go before the city council for a second reading and final vote in December.

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