Food Politics + Justice

Published on January 28th, 2014 | by Becky Striepe


Fined for Growing Food: Sean Law’s Permaculture Forest

Sean Law Fined for Growing Food

Yet another Floridian is being fined for growing food on his own property, and this time it may cost him and his family their home.

Sean Law is facing $130,000 in fines for turning his property into a food forest. He has fruit trees and annuals growing in the front and back yard of his property, and the Longwood City Council recently voted to uphold those fines. Law may lose his home as a result.

Our sister site – Sustainablog – has been following this story. You can read the initial piece here, sign the petition to save Law’s property here, and check out the follow-up on Law’s family being fined for growing food right here:

Update: Sean Law’s Fight to Keep His Food Forest… and His Home (via sustainablog)

Originally, I’d planned just to update the post I wrote on Wednesday when I got the decision of the Longwood, Florida city council about Sean Law’s accrued fines levied over his budding permaculture food forest. But there’s plenty to share –…

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About the Author

My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. My mission is to make vegan food and crafts accessible to everyone!. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .

2 Responses to Fined for Growing Food: Sean Law’s Permaculture Forest

  1. Vivi says:

    Only in the US of America, Land of the Free…

    Seriously, what is wrong with you people?! How dare they prescribe what kind of gardening style you use on your own private property? And how is this any of his neighbors’ business? It’s not like he uses pesticides that could kill their pets or something like that.

    Where I come from (suburb of Berlin, Germany), you can’t build higher than 2.5 storreys (to avoid urbanisation, and because of municipal water pressure levels), you’ve got to maintain the strip of municipally-owned storm-drain lawn and/or sidewalk in front of your property (because our town is too poor to hire people for that, and deep roots would damage the water and gas pipes underneath the strip), and you’re not allowed to build or plant trees right beside the fence to your next door neighbor (because of shading issues). Originally, you also couldn’t burn leaves in the open, and had to get a permit to fell adult trees on your property, with an order attached to replace the lost leaf volume by planting half a dozen new trees wherever the town told you to. But I think those laws have been dropped these last few years.

    Allotment gardens have more rules attached to them, but that’s because they’re leased, not owned. And the very cheap leasing rate is enshrined in law (basically it hasn’t changed in a century), a law that also stipulates that you have to use a certain percentage of the land to grow food. Because that’s what the allotment gardens were supposed to be used for, originally – helping the urban poor to get some fresh produce and air. If they’d try to change the law, the lease and legal protection from urban developers would be up for renegotiation, too, and nobody of the allotment gardeners wants that.

    I regularly wait too long to mow the strip of grass and weeds infront of our fence, because our lawn mower is broken, and even if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t get it out for our own garden until July. Yeah, it looks a little unkempt, but we’ve never been fined. I have one utterly antisocial neighbor who doesn’t like my organic, natural-looking gardening style and who regularly throws his weeds and slugs into my vegetable beds, and cut down several of my trees that were close to the property line (though they were protected under law, because they’d been planted over 20 years ago). But at least he has no legal right to stand on with his complaints. Actually, I could sue him for property damage, but I’ve got neither the energy nor the money for that.

    And I’ve never seen a rat in my life, despite composting for the last 30 years, my father purposefully creating places for hedgehogs to make winter nests, and our cat dying 10 years ago.

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