An Alternative to Mowing: Try Eating Your Lawn
In her inspirational New York Times article, "Cows Grazing in the Rumpus Room," Allison Arieff does a masterful job of covering efforts across the country to reclaim urban land for agricultural purposes. From rooftop container garden plots to the resurgence of Victory Gardens, a phenomenon is sweeping across our great nation, and calling us to connect back to the land we have largely foresaken in the name of progress.
Perhaps one of the most amazing projects Arieff includes in her report is "Edible Estates." According to her report, Edible Estates was, "Launched in 2005 with a prototype garden in Salina, Kan., the geographic center of the United States," by architect and educator Fritz Haeg. "Edible Estates aims to effect change in urban and suburban communities alike by urging residents to eat their lawns rather than mow them. (Did you know that homeowners use up to 10 times more chemical pesticides per acre on their lawns than farmers use on crops?) There are now nine such projects throughout the United States and abroad."
You can see this project in action by checking out the You Tube video of one of Haeg's front lawn transformations. The video points out the fact that 20-50% of all residential water use is for landscaping, and that an average of 88 gallons of water a day is used on lawns. Given the severe water shortages across the southern US last summer, projects like this may start to get the attention not only of eco-interested homeowners, but of government officials as well.
Urban agriculture is important on many levels, and is not just for the liberal, tree-hugging types. Urban agriculture has the potential to provide sources of food and income to people who are un- or under-employed, and who have little or no access to fresh, nutritional fruits and vegetables. Sourcing food locally reduces the amount of fuel required to transport the food to the table, and can increase the varieties of crops available in a particular area. As gas prices rise and the economy continues to recede, front yard farming is likely to become less of a novelty and more of a necessity.