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Ever planted a front yard garden with seeds that produce food?

Ever heard of a yard garden? It’s not a flower garden. It’s a food garden that you plant right in your own front yard!

Why would you want to plant a food garden in your own front yard, you might be asking yourself? Well, truth be told, told, big green lawns are a large waste of usable topsoil, time, and resources. It’s tempting, when you have a big green yard, to do what everyone else is conditioned to do, which is mow it (noise pollution), spray weed killers on it (toxic for people and animals), water it (what's the return?) ) and essentially, fuss about whether or not it will meet the approval of the Joneses.

For years, my husband has refused to mow our yard, preferring to keep it wild. Once in a while, he uses a hand-held sickle to hack away at some overgrown grass, and it offers to be good exercise. We never put weed killers on our lawn, knowing that they permeate the air and soil with toxic poisons, not to mention our lungs. And, so, our lawn in not perfectly manicured.

When one of our elitist neighbors walked by our house last year and suggested we cut down our buckthorn, we could not help but smile and raise our eyebrows. She was the one person in our area that is always spraying something toxic on her yard, mowing her yard every three days, and meticulously planting flowers that make her yard look like a something out of a magazine showcasing English Garden estates. (What I might have said to her, had I not chosen to hold my tongue that day, was: Your yard is very attractive, lady, --but it pollutes the air we breathe, and I sincerely hope you don’t get sick from your repeated exposure to those toxins you’re touching and breathing!)

Yard Gardens: A Movement to Make Good Sense of Agriculture

Alright, so let’s get down to the business of this newsletter. There is a movement taking place in our country that you may want to get in on, if your state and community have no ordinances against it. It’s a movement to turn front and back lawns, school lawns, church lawns, community lawns and empty urban lots into active, flourishing food gardens that serve to feed your family, and possibly even your neighbors and community. Here in Mahtomedi, MN where we live, there is a community garden on school/park property.

Planting Yard Gardens Is All About:

  • Moving beyond the Joneses thesis that a wild yard represents a homeowner who may be culturally inferior.

  • Localizing our food one yard at a time.

  • Digging up grass and getting in touch with the miracle of dirt.

  • Using and preserving heirloom seeds.

  • Discovering how to feed humus rich soil with healthy compost and nutrients.

  • Learning about ‘companion planting’ to help plants grow and keep insects at bay.

  • Teaching ourselves and our kids survival skills. (Everybody should know how to grow something!)

  • Storing food for lean times and emergencies.

  • Becoming better acquainted with one’s neighbors and sharing the bounty, or turning one’s grass into cash, by selling the surplus from one’s garden.

Ready to Learn How You Can Create a Yard Garden and Get Amazing Support and Resources While Doing It?

An organization known as Farm a Yard, provides free content, a podcast, “why and how to” videos, blogs, webinars and workshops for people to learn simple techniques for growing your own food for both fun and profit. They give guidance on how to manage soil fertility and much more! You can get their free e-book here, to get started:

The founder of Farm a Yard, you might be interested to know, is a woman and biodynamic farmer known as Linda Borghi, who is originally from New York, and who now makes her home in South Carolina. At one time in her career, she managed the cut-flower operation of 26 Costco stores on the East Coast, and also managed several 4-star restaurants on the upper east side of Manhattan!

Farmer Linda says: There are 40 ½ million acres of lawn in the US, and kids are going hungry. 40 ½ million acres, and they say we’re having a food production problem. We use 40 percent of our potable water on the East coast just to water lawns! Grass is the largest cultivated crop in the country …taking up more acreage than corn or soy crops. And, lastly, humans can’t eat grass.”

I think that parts of Linda’s statement would be good information to post on a yard sign next to any garden you might plot!

Don’t Think Your City Will Allow You to Feed Your Family, Using Your Own Plot of Real Estate?

Some states in the US have banned their citizens from growing front (and even back) yard gardens due to complaints by their neighbors who’ve said they want the visual appeal of grass versus the image of sustenance. How unfortunate! But that’s not a reason to give up. It’s a reason to EDUCATE!

Exploring Places in the US where Bans on Yard Gardens Were Reversed

Here’s a story about the reversal of a ban on a front yard garden that was brought against Julia Bass from Oak Park Michigan in 2011.

And, on the same page, is yet another story about a man from Florida who got 200 signatures from his neighbors, to express support for his garden and override the complaint that his neighbor made.

Make Change Happen, with Education!

I'm glad that the two neighbors on my block have wild yards like our own. But for those down the street who don't, education is the next step. Maybe a friendly mailbox campaign is in order!

Candia Lea Cole,

Founder, Eco-Learning Legacies

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