Grow Food Not Lawns: A Vision for Suburban America

in ecotrain •  4 months ago


I've spent the last few days in a suburban neighborhood. You know! The kind that are spreading out all over America!

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The thing I always think about when I'm in spaces like this is ALL OF THE WASTED SPACE.

When I was growing up, I lived in a neighborhood like this and when I traveled throughout the United States, I saw neighborhoods like this everywhere! You can see them from airplanes, by highways, EVERYWHERE! They're taking over America. Where I grew up, for example, farmland sold off more and more each year so that developers could come in and make homes where food (corn and soybeans, but that's another story) was growing!

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How are these neighborhoods serving us other than ease?

Personally, when I come here I start to think of all of the disconnection. Where does the water come from, the electricity, the chemicals to keep the lawns green, the food people eat, all of it! I'm not saying everyone needs to take care of these things themselves, but at least to think about who is taking care of them and in what way.

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Transition

One major way I see places like this could become radical (to the root) is by looking at their green spaces differently. I haven't seen one edible plant (except for the thornless blackberry we gave my sister and brother in law and the day lilies) since running in this neighborhood everyday. What I have seen are a bunch of trees & shrubs that are simply ornamental. Edible trees and shrubs can be beautiful and yummy too! Double whammy!

A simple vision for these types of spaces would be to plant edible trees and shrubs in the place of landscaping shrubs. If people had started doing that 20 years ago, this would be a veritable food forest!!!

All of that grass also is a major water and resource suck. As I mentioned in the video, I love green spaces, but in moderation. A yard is fun to play in, but they don't need to be everywhere. Instead, transition that into gardening space where you can grow food. Just check out all of @rawutah's posts to see what I mean!! They are truly rocking this vision!!!

Sunset over the urban food forest in Southern Utah right now. Plums and pluerries are ON!

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Photo by @RawUtah: Their inspiring 10 year old urban food forest!! Check it out!!

There are so many initiatives all over the country geared toward educating and gathering people together so that this vision catches faster.

I'm not saying everyone needs to move and change their life in a crazy way, but just to start to create resilience WHERE THEY CURRENTLY ARE.

Catch some rainwater to water your plants-- or to drink. I had a good friend in Southern California who did this at his parent's house in the suburbs and it was some of the best tasting water I'd ever had!!

There is so much possibility to create abundance and resiliency in these spaces BEFORE any type of collapse happens.

We need to start connecting the dots, creating bonds with our neighbors and switching from ornamental landscaping to edible landscaping. That is one small shift that could radically transform our world.

Some initiatives to look into:

Become A Transition Town
Food Not Lawns

Learn from "little permaculture villages" popping up like Green Acres Permaculture Village in Bloomington, Indiana where suburban citizens in neighborhoods are transitioning their neighborhoods:

Green Acres Permaculture Village is a small, retrofit, intergenerational intentional community in Bloomington, Indiana that integrates self-knowledge and expression with a shared culture among humans and the living Earth to encourage abundance on every level.


There is a ton of this already going on. If you have inspiring and educative examples, please share them in the comments. The inspiration is definitely not limited, but there needs to be more education and awareness raised. We truly need to see these neighborhoods throughout the USA producing resiliency and bonding with each other if we are to thrive in times to come.

As the Transition Town website says:

We are living in an age of unprecedented change, with a number of crises converging. Climate change, global economic instability, overpopulation, erosion of community, declining biodiversity, and resource wars, have all stemmed from the availability of cheap, non-renewable fossil fuels. Global oil, gas and coal production is predicted to irreversibly decline in the next 10 to 20 years, and severe climate changes are already taking effect around the world. The coming shocks are likely to be catastrophic...read more


We need to work together to shift the present and it begins here and now. Please share encouraging initiatives in your neck of the woods!

Thanks!

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this post is so well written and FELT!!!!!!!! thank you!!!!!!!!!! "A simple vision for these types of spaces would be to plant edible trees and shrubs in the place of landscaping shrubs. If people had started doing that 20 years ago, this would be a veritable food forest!!!" :)))) YESSSS!!! .....we are on year 10....and just hope more and more urban dwellers...jump in...to have some fun with us!!!!! so much HOPE!!!!!!!!!!! we love you two!!!!!!! please keep it coming!

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you two are a shining example of living this vision!!!! so much love and admiration :)))) <3 <3 <3

I live on the 7th best soil in the world, and it's rapidly being built on. Where people think their food will come from, I've no idea.....

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ugh totally THIS!

So many YESES!!!!!!! 😂 Grow food not lawn rings so true to my heart 💜🍓💜🍓💜🍓

Since i was in high school, ive felt an exasperation with the lawn. Like you, i think a little is nice, especially for little kids, but it should really be mostly food. Really hope this change will come. The front lawn - america's number two cash crop.

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AGREED!

The front lawn - america's number two cash crop.
right?!?!?!

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Its a maddening waste. I love the guerilla planters that fill public spaces with fruit trees and vegetable plants.

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Maddening indeed. planters are certainly a great way to liven up areas where space is not being used for anything. More things growing makes the world a better place.

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True, true! I was meaning the people who plant fruit trees in places like medians and roadsides and parks.

Yes yes yes! This is so important! More and more all the time we need to become more sustainable and self sufficient.

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💚🌿💚🌿💚🌿

Any chance I could get you to be on my podcast on @msp-waves this Monday 4PM EST?

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Yeah let’s do it

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Yes! Lets. Hit me on Discord - Movement19#0266

i second that @yogajill YESSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!

Such an amazing perspective. My parents has been doing this since we're little, and I thought that it was usually being done by all—but I was wrong. So yes, thank you for being an eye-opener.

#FoodNotLawns

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that's awesome to hear your parents were doing it! each one teach one! <3

One beautiful thing about your story is where you began it. I love learning about this history and am sure that others who know about you from steemit feel empowered by your roots, metaphorically and literally, considering where you have transplanted and how you grow. Maybe too metaphoric. It would be wonderful to see more being done in these homelands. When I studied Environmental Studies at Emory and Henry college, there was a course book about this subject. I don't have it anymore, and can try to draw up the name if you have patience with my rare steemit checking. I think reading deep into the subject is something you already enjoy, and it never hurts! Love, Maggie

thanks so much for the mention :)

i have always been a big advocate for the grow foods not lawns movement. In Australia I lvoed how the European migrants grew all this food in their gardens -The Greeks grew tomatoes and grapses all over suburban backyeards, out of necesssity begin so poor when they arrived post war. In many Ausstralian backyards we have lemon trees and fruit trees and vegie patches. Adly the newer housing estates are tiny - we've moved from the quarter acre standard blook to 300 or 400 metre squared. I love that there is a google map for fruit trees in melbourne, the ones that hang over peoples's fences and thus are ripe for the picking. So people clearly value food like this. IBut food has got so cheap and peoples time has become so poor that no on eseems to be growing food themselves. Our local council laws are changing to allow food on nature stripps in some areas which is awesome. Iwish it was compulsory for every person to have a vegeetale garden and grow something. I do thing the tide is shifting. Ihope so anyway.

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A bit of a different context in Aus, but it seems like. similar trend away from connection to food. Although there is a bit of a renaissance. That's neat to hear of early migrant. There was certainly a reserved de in the USA during WWII where the govt promoted victory garden and there was a surge of home grown food, wher the heck did that go? Just shows how the public actions can be VERY swayed by propoganda send promotional movements by govt or corps.

It's a shame to hear about the loss of interest, but I feel as a culture were waking up to the bigger picture. I hope..

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I hope so too. Victory gardens were also promoted in England... do your bit for the war effort!! Did you know this was when eggs started to become more popular as no one really ate them much?? In Australia, whilst people were suffering from rations in Europe, we apparently were eating steak. Abundance was our blessing. If I ruled the world Id force everyone to work in community gardens 😁😁😁

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How fascinating about the rise of egg popularity, thanks for sharing that interesting tidbit. I can imagine you now ruling from the throne, proclaiming that all the citizens must therefore take their turn in the gardens.. hehe

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Oh I would so be a dictator!!!

Great thoughts. France always seems to manage its trees and green spaces well, but I don't know enough. I just wish best for this kind of vision and policy worldwide, next to population control , poverty, ocean pollution etc etc.

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I do wish for this too. Simply outlawing wasteful Lawn (as they do in some droughts area) and investing in green edible spaces would make a big difference. Don't forget abolishing the human greed that drives so much destruction..

Great post. This frustration with the urban landscape is what inspired me to get out in the country and learn about what really grows in California versus what is planted here for ornamentation. California is kind of making some moves in this area. Mostly because of drought but also because of thoughtfulness about where our precious water goes. There are lots of typical green grass lawns being replaced by native, low water/drought resistant plants in beds of rocks or bark. Unfortunately there are also others being replaced by artificial grass. Yuck.

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yes after living in california for a year i learned much of the dilemmas facing the ecosystem. it's also quite exciting because you can grow so much, especially in southern california. it's a truly unique ecosystem and i would love to live there (except for the water issues, which will likely just keep getting worse). i do know of a booming permaculture community in LA teaching people many of these things which is really exciting. see: http://www.permacultureacademy.com/

and yeah native drought landscaping is a HUGE step up!!! any way humans can shift away from the green grass thing is a 100% shift in my book.

like i said, i'm not against turf, i just don't think everyone needs their individual lawns to prove their impeccability and "keep up with the joneses". there are much more creative, purposeful and healthy ways to tend a landscape. thanks and glad to hear you made a shift with eyes open!

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California is actually making big moves to add more nature in the city, in particular in places like San Francisco. It is going to take time for them to really get to where they need to go, but at least there is movement in the right direction.

This post is the essence of my "Urban Plantasy" movement. Beyond the individual approach to growing food and adding more circular systems individually, we need to get the group level. There is absolutely no reason to build the traditional suburban sprawl homes anymore with the knowledge we have today. Biomimicry and Circular Economy can teach us how to build our homes up to "Living Building Challenge" levels with massive long-term savings. Our neighborhoods can become areas of community gardens, rain-water collection, and so many other techniques that are not only great for the environment, they create solidarity on a physical and emotional level. And when it comes to office spaces, there is a whirlwind of amazing designs that create buildings that make you want to go to work!

We are on the brink of a whole new era of urban planning, architecture, design, and social innovation, but to make it happen, we have to dream big and build together!

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Love what you bring up here. I'm familiar with the LBC and have been around some of the building that took part in it. Beautiful stuff folks are creating within such strict guideline.

You're right, we have the knowledge, skills and capacity to do A LOT better on the planning side of human existence and design that we currently are. Thanks for your input.

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In part, it has been a materials problem. Up until recently, it was much cheaper to build using "standard" materials that didn't really allow the flexibility to create solutions that matched the location and the people. Now that is changing. We have a greater understanding of biology to see that nature builds things in much different ways than we do, and with 3D printing, we are seeing the material that will give us the flexibility to do the right thing without worrying about the price.

All designers, whether they be artists, architects, or engineers, should have a biologist at the table, because nature knows how to build pretty much anything!