Friday, March 7, 2008

Do Away With Your Lawn

Earlier this winter I was looking for another book on gardening from Amazon and stumbled on the book FOOD NOT LAWNS. It's title really grabbed me and the subtitle sold me on it! "How to turn your yard into a garden and your neighborhood into a community". This book embodies my own personal goals. I waited with excitement for it to come in the mail and when it did arrive, I simply fell into it. I had already implemented so much of what this book talks about and yet H. C. Flores still has shown me even more ways of looking at lawns and their effect on our environment. She has also given me new resolve on the importance of what I am doing in my own front yard...not only the food I grow but the opportunity I have to show the people whose lives mine touches another way to think about the part we each play in our environment.
from the book
Whether you live in an apartment, in the suburbs, on a farm, or anywhere in between, growing food is the first step toward a healthier, more self-reliant, and ultimately more ecologically sane life. Gardening may seem like just a hobby to many people, but in fact growing food is one of the most radical things you can do: Those who control our food control our lives, and when we take that control back into our own hands, we empower ourselves toward autonomy, self-reliance, and true freedom.

Reading this book has sent me on an internet research quest to find out more about this phenomenon we call the urban lawn. I have come up with lots of interesting stuff which I will share here with you..


Turning our yards back into utilitarian spaces may be one of the most important things we do to combat the industrial food machine. It is the very best example of eating locally and has a positive impact on us by cutting down food miles and educating people (most importantly youth!) about the origins of ingredients.

Some amazing facts about lawns gathered from various sources:

* Nearly 50,000 square miles of America is covered in lawns.
* Americans spend $27 billion per year caring for lawns.
* A 25' x 40' lawn needs 10,000 gallons of water each summer.
* 30-60% of all urban fresh water is used for watering our lawns.
* Pesticides and fertilizers used to maintain lawns can increase water nitrate levels.
* Run-off from watering lawns pollutes our streams and rivers.
* Ground water nitrate levels are one of the largest landfill contributions to the greenhouse effect.
* A conventional mower pollutes as much in an hour as driving 100 miles in your car.
* Annually in the US, we use 800 million gallons of gas to fuel our lawn mowers.
* Mowing grass depletes fossil fuels as it emits high levels of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide and volatile organic compounds.
* According to the EPA, 17 million gallons of gasoline are spilled each year while refueling lawn equipment. To put that into perspective, that is more than all the oil spilled by the Exxon Valdez.
* We send over 160 million tons of lawn clippings as solid waste to the landfill each year.
* Americans annually use 67 million pounds of synthetic pesticides on their lawns.
* The average urban lawn can produce several hundred pounds of food a year!

The most amazing thing that I turned up is the Urban Homestead site of the Dervaes family in Pasadena, CA. Another great example of what you can do on your city lot. They grow 6000 lbs of food on a 1/10 acre lot! This site alone has made me realize that I want to weigh everything that we harvest this year to see just how much I am growing. Inspirational~!

Once again, the driving force behind Path to Freedom , Jules Dervaes, has led the way with a radical challenge. Can we urban homesteaders deliver? PTF will be trailblazing a new path as we ask: How much food can be grown on such a small scale?

Back in 2003, we at Path To Freedom first shocked ourselves and “the world” by growing 6,000 lbs (3 tons) of fruits, vegetables and herbs on our 1/10 acre growing space and proved that we could approach a high level of self sufficiency both directly and indirectly from our city lot.

Can 1/10 of an acre (about 4,300 sq ft) grow a cornucopia of 10,000 pounds without using ANY organic NPK fertilizers? We are talking about a piece of land equivalent to 66′x66′! Such an urban food production feat has not been undertaken and documented with stats to prove its possibility. Are we crazy? Crazy, you say? Yes siree, bob. Whether or not this happens all depends on the weather. God willing, we hope to be blessed with abundant rainfall and good weather to reap a bountiful harvest! Stay tuned to this journal for the out-of-this world developments.


Gail said...

You have written the post I have been thinking about! Good one, lots of great info. Have you seen Gimme Green? Billed as a humerous look at America's obsession with lawn. Worth a watch.


lostlandscape said...

"Food not lawns"--what a great manifesto! In one community in the Southern California desert an hour from here golf course consume twice the total consumed by the residents, most of whom know better than to try to do lawn in a climate where it makes no sense to keep acres of turf. What a waste of resources...

Patricia Lanchester said...

This inspired me to grow food. Tomorrow is the first day of Spring. What more appropriate a time. I have bookmarked your wonderful blog and I'll be using it for my resources. Thank you for showing me just how important it is to be practical regarding our land.

Beth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
parnika said...

Do you still use free service like or but
they have less control and less features.
shift to next generation blog service which provide free websites for
your blog at free of cost.
get fully controllable ( more features like
forums,wiki,CMS and email services for your blog and many more free
hundreds reported 300% increase in the blog traffic and revenue
join next generation blogging services at