FL Man’s ‘Patriot Garden’ Targeted Again – City Threatens Uprooting and Daily $500 Fines

“They will take our house before they take our Patriot Garden.” Again, Helvenston stands firm – and he wants you to join him!


Heather Callaghan
Activist Post

Jason and Jennifer Helvenston were given a strict deadline of November 7 to uproot their beautiful 25×25 foot front yard garden – or else face major punishment. That garden still stands and so does their resolution to keep it.

A flood of supportive emails initially stopped the threats of forced excavation by Orlando, cancelling a December board hearing, but, as always when perceived public fervor ebbed, the city quietly came back to demand its removal again. Starting tomorrow they will be inspected and charged $500 per day if the garden isn’t gone – they are not deterred.

Instead, they have launched “Plant a Seed, Change the Law” and want to help you get started. Of course, the news anchor gave the wrong website – go to Patriot-gardens.com to request free seeds and start your garden in solidarity. Please see more details below.

Ironically, Orlando is aspiring to be the “Greenest City in America” and their mission statement reads:

To inspire and facilitate the development of a well-planned, diverse, and sustainable community to make Orlando more livable for its citizens, businesses and visitors.

The mayor encouraged its citizens to grow gardens even appearing in an ad! Caricatures are depicted planting gardens everywhere in the city – growing with neighbors is encouraged. Look at all the things Mayor Buddy Dyer tells the townspeople to do:

But codes are codes, and this one vaguely demands that “ground covers be planted in a way that gives off a finished appearance so neighborhood lawns are clean, and inviting – keeping property values up.” The violation, however, simply states failure to keep grounds covered.

There is talk of the city wanting them to invest hundreds in caging or boxed containers, or face the $500 daily fine – but wait! Wouldn’t that further set them apart from the other “finished” lawns? Is that inviting and conducive to property values?

There is some buck passing and semantics with this issue. The mayor appears to support the Helvenstons, yet what else is he doing to repeal the violations which he admits don’t exist because gardens aren’t forbidden and the code doesn’t address front yards? He sounds encouraging while talking about codes adapting to society’s changing tastes and then mentions deploying a Green Works Task Force. Always beware of the words Task Force. Talk to the mayor below.

Jason isn’t taking the bait – he and Jennifer said NO at every directive – if they had conceded at all, the Patriot Garden would be gone and with it, a growing revolution. The only way to stop the insanity is to keep going and ignore bureaucratic threats.

Jason said:

The greatest freedom you can give someone is the freedom to know they will not go hungry. 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.

His wife Jennifer said:

We are asking residents across Orlando and the country to join us in planting a ‘Patriot Garden’ in their own front yards. Please email us at patriotgarden@gmail.com 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.’ [see more below]

They say on their website:

All we want to do is use our property peacefully to grow our own food. The Constitution protects our property rights from arbitrary invasions like this. Help us tell our leaders “Hands off our food!” by planting your own Patriot Garden in your front yard. Here’s how.

Yesterday, Orlando officials told Local 6 that the case was on hold but revealed nothing else. Attorney for the Institute of Justice, Ari Bargil, said they were interested in looking at suing Orlando, but for the time being are “focused on helping the Helvenstons get the word out, encouraging the city to reach a sensible compromise here.”

So far, there is no donation info to help the Helvenstons – it looks like they are the ones truly giving back.

You hear that Orlando? It just doesn’t get any greener.

You can also voice your opinion to the city with the following contacts:

City Planning Division
City Hall, 6th Floor | 400 S. Orange Ave.
P.O. Box 4990 | Orlando, FL 32802-4990
(407) 246-2269 Main | (407) 246-2895 Fax
City Planning Division Manager
Dean J. Grandin, Jr., AICP

Mayor Buddy Dyer
Phone: 407.246.2221
Fax: 407.246.2842
E-mail: buddy.dyer@cityoforlando.net

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