A recent Yahoo! Answers poster asked, “Is it weird to plant vegetables in the front yard, versus the back yard?” It looks as if her preferred answer (not quoted verbatim) was, “Yes, it is too weird—you freak!” Author Heather Flores begs to differ. Her book, Food Not Lawns, is all about tearing up sod and laying down lettuce. According to Flores, front-yard gardens create community, build fertile soil, and promote biodiversity.
The book is part of a whole minimovement. Fritz Haeg, whose Edible Estates project helps people kick the grass habit, has even offered up a manifesto, which “proposes the replacement of the American lawn with a highly productive domestic edible landscape.” Among its inspiring credos:
Food grown in our front yards will connect us to the seasons, the organic cycles of the earth and our neighbors. The banal lifeless space of uniform grass in front of the house will be replaced with the chaotic abundance of bio-diversity. In becoming gardeners we will reconsider our connection to the land, what we take from it and what we put in it.
Of course, the neighbors aren’t always happy about the repurposed landscaping, as evidenced by this Associated Press article, featuring gardeners who have weathered municipal code violations, public hearings, and complaints about “untidy” tomatoes. The rewards, however, are incalculable, according to landscape designer Rosalind Creasy:
People tell me they went to Tuscany and ate outside under a grape arbor. Well, they can grow their own grapes in their yard… People want meaning in their lives; you don’t have to go to Tuscany to get it.