Fresh Legislation Would Protect Community Gardens From Lawsuits

Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway

Rosemont 6th Grade School students help employees from Texas Motor Speedway work to refurbish an educational garden and plant trees at Rosemont 6th Grade School on December 14, 2010 in Fort Worth, Texas. (

A good garden is much about keeping the right things in as it is keeping the wrong things out. In: rich soil, tended rows and the right amounts of sunlight and water. Out: weeds, deer, Bunnicula. And for one state lawmaker, add to that list of noxious intruders something unexpected: lawsuits.

A bill recently introduced by Rep. Borris L. Miles, D-Houston, would protect landowners of community gardens from liability against accidents on the garden.

HB 1652 would limit the legal responsibility landowners have over what happens on their property, if it is used as a community garden.

The bill would not protect the landowners against negligence, but instead against gardening incidents.

“I’ve had many people express a willingness to let us use their land for community gardens, but are worried about being sued if someone gets hurt while tending to their plot,” Miles says.

The bill would require landowners to post a sign warning of their limited liability “in a clearly visible location on or near the premises.”

Miles is involved with Houston-based community garden program Urban Harvest. He helped the program get funding from Walmart. He says this bill would encourage similar programs statewide.

“This bill will promote the development of new gardens by giving landowners the peace of mind that they will not be penalized for helping their community,” Miles says.

Olivia Gordon is a reporting intern with StateImpact Texas.

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