A December 2022 article in FCAP magazine addressed the confusion of whether an HOA/POA can restrict or ban yard vegetable gardens in their communities. §604.71 of the Florida Statutes states that no county, municipality, or other political subdivision in Florida can regulate vegetable gardens on residential properties.
The confusion arises because most people don’t understand what that exactly means. HOAs, condominium associations, and cooperatives do not fall under the category of “political subdivisions,” which are typically separate legal entities of a state that usually have specific governmental functions. Examples include a county, city, town, village, school district, and other subdivisions with a governmental legal status. Community associations are private not-for-profit corporations, and while they may govern over their communities, they are non-governmental entities with powers that are codified by state law.
That means that HOAs can and often do restrict vegetable gardens.
Gardens have many benefits, including the promotion of sustainable food production, improved health by eating fresh produce and cost savings. But they can also be a detriment to the community by attracting pests and vermin, creating a mismatched aesthetic community landscape, and the possibility of overgrowth which may decrease the visibility for safe pedestrian and vehicular traffic, depending on where the garden is located on the lot.
Some communities with a good amount of common area have created “community gardens” and a committee to ensure that it doesn’t become overgrown or ripe vegetables don’t lay on the ground or rot in the hot sun. Food that isn’t used by the residents is often donated to food banks or other entities that assist those in need.
Communities may need to regulate gardens in their architectural review process by creating a category that details the criteria for permitting a garden. This would include the type of items that may be grown, maintenance standards and consequences for violations of such criteria.
Before embarking on any course of action, it’s best to work with your attorney for a balanced and legally enforceable approach.