Here is the Press Release response from Mayor Dyer after the media and public pressured for answers.  Media reports were accurate and the code officials did contemplate front yard food production with an official concurrent code ruling NOT allowing front yard vegetable gardens (See City Tabs on Blog).  At each level we have consistently said NO to the City's directives from the initial Code Enforcement Officer all the way up to the Chief City Planner and Sustainability Director.  If we had not said NO, our Patriot Garden would already be gone. 
Dear Citizen,
 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

Buddy Dyer
Here is the email to the Mayor and City Commissioners after we read the response on November 12th.  Fourteen minutes after this email was sent, the Chief City Planner contacted us to schedule a meeting.
Dear Commissioners -
Mayor Dyer,

On the way to preparing for a Code Enforcement Board Hearing, a large movement has snowballed into a very important issue.  We would like to point out that we did not wake up one morning and decide to fight the City of Orlando, we were quietly gardening in our front yard on a dead end street into Interstate-4.  Our little front yard garden is really not the issue anymore.

Consequently, a group of residents from the City of Orlando would like to request time during the December 3rd Council Meeting to present some very important points in regards to sustainability and vegetable gardens in the City of Orlando.  We will be formally asking the City to Update the Code to include edible gardens and exist in a sustainable form unlike the current Code.

We also want to point out that the City Staff have been nice and seem to be working very hard to extract an answer out of a Code that does not contain the answer.  We hope they realize that and are working on deep Code change.  Although, we have requested meetings we have not had one yet but we look forward to working with the City.

We feel that the circumstances have been a blessing for our community and sustainability.  It has brought so many people together and engaged so many more.  Furthermore, we feel the City of Orlando has an excellent opportunity to let the World know that they are growing sustainably.

Thank you for your time.  Have a wonderful week.

Jason & Jennifer Helvenston


  1. Get in contact with my cousin, Gretchen Mead-Knox in Milwaukee, WI. She runs Victory Garden Initiative and is well versed in front yard gardening and fighting the battles that come with it.

    Gretchen Mead, Executive Director

    Move grass, grow food! Much luck!


  2. Hi Jason and Jennifer and Orlando community&management,

    I would like to say that I was touched by the story of not being allowed to grow vegetables in a privately owned garden.

    Sometimes, or let us say - in many times - we create as a community regulations that can harm our most precious values. If so, it is necessary to stand up and make our point, in order to change what is not working. In most cases the system is not made to suppress but to regulate. In this case we see the execution of the system worked out as a suppression. We are all humans - citizens and 'system managers' and each of us is aware of what it means to make the system bigger than the creators of the system. It is our collective future. Let us be mindful and be the custodians for future genenerations to come. I am glad to see that it worked out well in Orlando and wish the Orlando community and management all the best!

    Thanks for being an example for all other places in the world,

    Greetings from Holland!,

    Bernard de Lange