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Garden police: Free their produce

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Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 8:55 p.m.

An Orlando, Fla., couple who sowed seeds of environmentally responsible sustainability in their front-yard food garden are reaping a harvest of pointless government hassle.

The city has no problem with Jason and Jennifer Helvenston keeping egg-producing chickens in their backyard. But if they don't uproot the garden by today and replace it with a lawn, it will fine them up to $500 a day.

After its initial Nov. 7 deadline for removing their garden passed and hundreds of people expressed support for them, the city took a more conciliatory stance, saying its landscape code “never contemplated front yard food production” and creating a sustainability task force.

But Orlando has reversed course.

The self-reliant Helvenstons consider their garden's fate a constitutional issue of individual and property rights. They say they'll fight the city. And the Institute for Justice is interested in helping them.

The Helvenstons share their produce with neighbors and use their garden to educate youngsters about the value of growing one's own healthful food. They have a website,, where supporters can request a free packet of seeds and a small “Patriot Garden” sign to use in their own gardens.

Instead of harassing the Helvenstons, Orlando officials should encourage others to emulate them. For they have every right to grow food in their front yard and the city, in a horrible example of government run amok, clearly is in the wrong.

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