An Orlando, Florida couple faces fines of $500 per day for simply growing vegetables in their front yard. The Helvengston’s have been fighting the city since November, when they were told their lawn does not fit city code. They are protesting the unfair laws with an effort called “Plant a Seed, Change the Law” so that homeowners everywhere can continue to peacefully grow food on their property. The case is now on hold as the city reviews the codes, and local residents supporting the Helvengston’s garden are sending encouragement.
Imagine if half, or even a quarter of the millions of U.S. residences were growing food instead of empty lawns? It could solve countless problems. We’d use less gas and save grocery money by harvesting food from our yards instead of driving to the store. More fruits and vegetables means better nutrition, as well as improved physical and mental health, as gardening provides exercise and relaxation. Fruit trees and gardens everywhere would improve air and soil quality.
What if all public spaces- parks, schools, sidewalks- grew apple, orange trees, or grapes? How amazing would it be to pick fruit for lunch while walking along the sidewalk heading to work? Many of the world’s hungry could be fed if underutilized spaces were better used, and the often cited fear of “scarcity” could be eased.
As the Orlando couple points out:
Growing a garden is as old as civilization and deeply rooted in the American experience. During both World Wars, Americans were encouraged to plant their own “Victory Gardens,” which were an economical way to increase the nation’s food supply. It makes little sense that something that was once considered a patriotic duty should now be against the law.
Take a look at the Helvengston’s site patriot-gardens.com and read about the benefits of growing a food garden. From there, you can request a free seed packet and find resources to start growing some veggies!
(Photo source: blog.hgtv.com, Photographer Fritz Haeg)