Private Gardens

I have sh’mitta produce growing in my garden, which is
inaccessible from the street. Do I have to declare the produce hefker, or is it automatically hefker? May I also take from
the hefker produce?

is a difference of opinion as to whether sh’mittah
produce is automatically hefker (Mabit/Maharit)
or if one needs to declare it hefker
(Beis Yosef). Even though the
former opinion is generally accepted, it is a good idea to declare one’s produce
hefker in front of three adult
males (who can be good friends and even relatives). In any event, one has to
allow the public access to the hefker produce. Since your garden is not accessible from the
street, you should hang up a notice informing the public that you have hefker
produce. You can limit the hours that you are prepared to
allow the public access to your garden, as long as the times are reasonable
(e.g. 6-8 p.m. every day). Those taking advantage of the hefker
are only permitted to pick the produce; they are not allowed to cause any
damage, either to the plant or to any part of your property. If they do, you may
chase them away after giving appropriate warning. You yourself are entitled to
take from the hefker produce, just
as much as any other person.

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