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
Interesting follow-up…look forward to hearing more.
Thank you. I had a great interview with them this afternoon – should be able to get video up soon. The Helvenston's are a great couple.
I would really like to get in contact with them just in case the City tries to take action such as removing the garden. Myself and many of my friends here in Orlando would love to help.
Thank you, Shelby. Looks like they'll be meeting with the city soon – Orlando might be backing down. I have a video interview coming shortly.
i still don't see how well-tended veggies aren't groundcover. does he have bard, unmulched ground? it's hard to see…
also, the neighbor should be shot.
No – it looks great. I got a few photos and put them in my upcoming video. I'll also be writing an article ASAP.
Dear Mr Goodman:
I am the owner of the house next door. I live out of town, but pay taxes on the property, and has the same rights. My farmer neighbor is very collective in your interview, but when we approach his wife to discuss alternative, we never had a response from them. He called our property manager to insult him. This is not an attitude from a farmer, I am a farmer also a biologist and understand the natural process and sustainability movement, but this crying baby attitude is what confused me with the right purpose of farming.
Since to me that he only wants to get publicity for his business.
What's next? Chicken, Gardens, herpetologist???
I live in Puerto Rico and proud to serve the US Navy. I'm willing to discuss our rights and opinions to anyone.
Pedro Padin 787-612-9127
Gretchen Rivera Padin 787-413-7788
The key issue here is to keep the place neat and clean and that's why we are concern about the front garden.
Sent from my iPad
Please notify your Superiors of this comment, as to whether it meets the high standards of the US Navy, Code of Conduct for Military Personnel. They may wish you to remove any reference to them, if you are singling out the civilian population, with your personal opinions of them. You can do it in the barracks, with other military personnel, but you cannot broadcast it publicly, and risk marring the high standard the US Navy expects of its recruits.
Someone close to me does environmental inspections for the city of Minneapolis. As it was explained to me, the city tries to balance the desires of the owner/occupant with the desires of the neighbors re: property values. Many times, people who put in unusual plant installations (and a veggie garden out front is unusual) don’t maintain them, and things get out of hand quickly.
I want to grow veggies out front, because it’s the place on our lot that gets good sunlight. I can do it, but I am hesitant even though our neighbors wouldn’t say a word.
Just do it and give the neighbors some produce now and again.