Defiant Longwood homeowner fined $130,000 over “messy yard”
the 32-year-old Longwood man is not creating much love or good will with his neighbors.
In the past year, Law has racked up nearly $130,000 in code-enforcement fines from the city of Longwood because of weeds, trash, debris and unmowed grass.
"My motive is to grow life and love," said Law, taking a cue from a Japanese farmer/philosopher who advocated natural farming. "It’s a moral imperative that we grow food wherever we can, and that is what I am doing."
But Law’s neighbors aren’t hearing any of it. They point out that Law lives on East Maine Avenue in suburban Longwood — not a farm.
To Kathy Ettman, his yard — dotted with tree stumps, tall grass, weeds, and unpruned fruit and vegetable plants — is hurting property values in the otherwise well-kept, quiet neighborhood.
"We’re tired of it," said Ettman, who lives across the street from Law. "We’ve been dealing with it for two years.
"We have to look at it…"
But Law is not planning to clean up his property anytime soon. In fact, he filed a notice this week with the Florida Supreme Court that he plans to appeal a lower court’s decision upholding the city’s fine.
Law said his jungle-like yard falls under the standards of a 2009 Florida-friendly landscaping law that encourages homeowners to cultivate landscapes that conserve water, protect the environment and don’t require chemicals.
His actions, he says, come directly from the late Japanese philosopher Masanobu Fukuoka, who taught “Do-Nothing Farming,” or no weeding, no tilling, no pruning, no pesticides and no fertilizers.
Law said he is creating a natural environment for life while growing arugula, avocados, broccoli, watermelon and luffa.
"It’s blunt tyranny for a city to stop people from growing their own food," said Law, with dark hair tied back in a ponytail and a trim beard.
But city officials don’t see it that way.