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Woman who sued for front-yard veggie gardens dies in Florida

By MARCUS LIMAugust 27, 2019
FILE-In this Monday, July 1, 2019 file photo, homeowners Hermine Ricketts, right, and Tom Carroll chat as they speak to members of the media, in Miami Shores, Fla. Ricketts died Saturday at age 63 after a long illness. The Miami-area couple held a ceremonial replanting of vegetables in their front yard as legislation to allow such gardens statewide went into effect July 1, following their long court battle to challenge a Village of Miami Shores' prohibition on front yard gardens. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)
FILE-In this Monday, July 1, 2019 file photo, homeowners Hermine Ricketts, right, and Tom Carroll chat as they speak to members of the media, in Miami Shores, Fla. Ricketts died Saturday at age 63 after a long illness. The Miami-area couple held a ceremonial replanting of vegetables in their front yard as legislation to allow such gardens statewide went into effect July 1, following their long court battle to challenge a Village of Miami Shores' prohibition on front yard gardens. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)

MIAMI SHORES, Fla. (AP) — A South Florida gardening crusader has died after a lengthy legal battle that led to a new state law allowing people to grow vegetables in their front yards without fear of local ordinances. Hermine Ricketts was 63.

Ricketts, who lived in Miami Shores, died Saturday after a lengthy illness, the Institute for Justice confirmed. The libertarian public interest law firm represented Ricketts during her six-year court battle.

The law allowing front-yard vegetable plots took effect July 1. The next day, Ricketts celebrated with a ceremonial replanting of veggies in front of her Miami Shores house.

“I am eager to get back and grow my healthy food,” Ricketts told AP on July 2. “This was worth more than winning in the court of law. More people can benefit from this.”

Ricketts’ court battle begun when the Miami Shores Village Council amended its zoning code in 2013 to prohibit front-yard vegetable gardens. Village officials told her to uproot all her previously planted vegetables or face a $50 daily fine.

An appeals court backed the village, but then the Legislature stepped in to legalize the gardens.

Ricketts is survived by her husband, Tom Carroll, 60, who co-owns the Miami Shores home where they lived for the past 26 years. Ricketts and her husband ate the produce they grew from their garden. He was also heavily involved in his wife’s legal battles.

During the ceremonial replanting July 2, Ricketts sat on her rolling walker and watched as Carroll and her Institute for Justice attorney planted jalapenos, green bell peppers and other edibles that once would have violated local ordinances. She suffered from lung, heart and kidney trouble.

“A garden is a healthy place,” Ricketts said then. “You are on the earth, touching the soil, the grass. You get a new appreciation. It’s just wonderful.”

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