After sharing the story of Jason Helvenston’s (given wrongly in previous reports as “Helvingston”) front-yard garden being threatened by the city of Orlando, I later posted my e-mail to Mayor Buddy Dyer.
Incidentally, I’ve also been in contact with Jason and Jennifer Helvenston and hope to catch them for an interview later today – with luck, I’ll be able to dig deeper into the story and share what I find with all of you.
This morning, I heard back from Mayor Dyer – here’s his response:
Dear Mr. Goodman, Thank you for reaching out to us on the topic of residential gardening. The City of Orlando is committed to environmental responsibility and encourages the use of vegetable gardens as a sustainable source of producing food. While media reports may have inaccurately led you to believe the City has an ordinance against vegetable gardens, nothing could be further from the truth. The City is working with the property owner to address a concern shared by a neighbor regarding lack of ground cover. This code helps the City maintain standard levels that help keep property values up for residents and creates an inviting atmosphere for neighbors. However, our existing landscape code never contemplated front yard food production, hence the confusion related to this recent story. As society’s tastes change, we continue to adapt our development and landscape codes. To assist with this process and the topic of sustainability as a whole, the City has created a Green Works Task Force. The Task Force will help develop Orlando’s plan for sustainability, which will serve as the road map to steer future policies, developments and investments. The task force will address items such as this to ensure there is a balance between sustainable practices and maintaining the high quality of life Orlando residents expect. To learn more about the City's sustainability efforts, please visit cityoforlando.net. Sincerely, Buddy Dyer Mayor