A College Park couple’s vegetable garden is on the chopping block again after the city threatened fines if they don’t uproot it by Thursday, according to the Institute for Justice Florida Chapter. Jason and Jennifer Helvenston are launching “Plant a Seed, Change the Law,” a protest of Orlando’s law, which they say violates their constitutional right to peacefully use their property to grow their own food.
After hundreds of emails supporting the couple flowed in and initially allowing the Helvenstons to keep their garden, saying it will hold off on violations, the city has since asked the couple to uproot the garden and replace it with a lawn or face fines.
“The greatest freedom you can give someone is the freedom to know they will not go hungry,” said Jason Helvenston. “Our Patriot Garden pays for all of its costs in healthy food and lifestyle while having the lowest possible carbon footprint. It supplies valuable food while being attractive. I really do not understand why there is even a discussion. They will take our house before they take our Patriot Garden.”
According to Ari Bargil, an attorney for the Institute for Justice, the Helvenstons have a scheduled inspection and will be fined starting on Thursday, up to $500 a day.
“We are seriously interested in taking a look at this,” Bargil said, when asked if the firm would be suing the city of Orlando. “We’re focused on helping the Helvenstons get the word out, encouraging the city to reach a sensible compromise here.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Orlando city officials told Local 6 the case is on hold, but the city didn’t elaborate on that decision and provided no other details.
“We are asking residents across Orlando and the country to join us in planting a ‘Patriot Garden’ in their own front yards,” said Jennifer Helvenston. “Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you a free packet of radish seeds and a small sign for your front yard that says ‘Patriot Garden: Plant a Seed, Change the Law.’”