Jason Helvenston (UPDATE: his last name is wrong in the video – it should be Helvenston, not Helvingston) is my kind of guy. And his garden is beautiful. It’s just not where code officials think it should be.
Look – everyone’s property values have fallen through the floor here in FL… might as well get a tiny fraction back by growing food. Please – step up, Orlando, and do the “green” thing – support local food production.
Incidentally, I’ve been to the Ag extension in Orlando and was very impressed with some of their forward thinking. Then I see a story like this and just scratch my head… we need to change our “perfect and unproductive lawn” thinking ASAP. Someone in city government can help Jason keep his garden – he’s already got 200 signatures supporting it!
Call or e-mail Orlando’s mayor and let him know how you feel (if anyone can find e-mail addresses from the “board” that will be hearing this case, please post them in the comments).
Mayor Buddy Dyer
UPDATE: Here’s the e-mail I just sent to Orlando’s mayor:
Subject: A Plea on Behalf of Jason Helvington’s Garden
Dear Mayor Dyer,
Thank you for leading Orlando in these tough times.
I’m a Master Gardener, Floridian and garden writer in Marion county…
I’ve got family and friends in Orlando and have toured your excellent
Ag. Extension. Orlando prides itself on being “green,” and I know you’ve
done a lot to promote sustainable uses of land.
Would you please step in and save the front-yard garden of Jason
Helvington? I just saw this news story and find it very upsetting:
Many of us are really struggling with our terrible property values
(houses in my area fell to a quarter of their “boom” value a few years
ago) and growing food helps take some of the bite out. Respectfully, I
believe people like Jason should be encouraged to use their land to feed
themselves. His neighbors love his little garden and it truly makes
Orlando look totally cutting edge. If the zoning board plows it under,
it would be a crime! There are few things more beautiful than seeing
food spring up from the earth in the midst of a suburbia. It reflects
resilience in the face of economic woes and should be encouraged.
Thanks for your time – I pray you step in. Grass consumes resources
without yielding anything – gardens produce much more than they consume.
Please – for the sake of our future – go on over, visit Jason, have a
fresh carrot or tomato… and save this lovely little plot. I promise –
it’ll seriously make you one of the coolest Mayors in the state.
All the best,
Marion County Master Gardener
Orlando, like tampa, doesn't seem to pride itself on being green. i can't think of a single thing that city has done to be green. i also can't think of one for tampa either, unless you count the incinerator and the desalination (failure). Or St. Pete for that matter. Both cities have coal burning power plants. Both have a lot of tourism, and pride themselves on the tourism looks. I think this is a serious case of too much free time on code enforcement's hands. i suggest layoffs for code enforcement office and city planners for the city of orlando.
also, jason should sue them civilly. vegetables are a ground cover. then he should take his winnings and bail out his no-doubt underwater house, and move out of that town. he can move in by me, we have a ton of cheap nice houses and we can garden all the way to the road if we want to.
this story made me so angry this morning! i'm never living in the city again.
even jacksonville lets people have farm animals in the city. and front yard gardens.
Yeah, Crissy – I hear you. I've lived in a few cities – even little ones – and they all were rotten with anti-gardening and homesteading regulations.
People live like a bunch of monkeys, beating down anyone who gets out of line.
One day they'll wish they'd traded in their oleanders for blueberries.
I moved out of the city onto Ag land on purpose… but you shouldn't have to live in the sticks to grow your own food on your own dirt, dang it.