Edible Estates: turning lawns into food

Energy & Sustainability Gardening
Edible Estates: turning lawns into food

Edible Estates is continuing to march around the country, with 6 gardens that were formerly lawns now in place nationwide.


(Images of Austin’s Edible Estate via fritzhaeg.com)

Check out Fritz Haeg’s presentation from his Austin visit here for great visuals of the difference between lawns and edible estates.

Also check out this Mother Earth News article on edible ground cover and the “Food Not Lawns” groups popping up (Iowa City here, and San Diego here)

And, please comment if you’ve transformed your lawn into something more productive than xeriscaping and less wasteful than water-hungry grass!

4 thoughts on “Edible Estates: turning lawns into food

  1. zof says:

    Its stories like this that make me think of the 3rd world countries in like Africa which have nothing but a desert waste land like areas and how hard it is for them to even grow enough food to survive. Yet most of us in north america live in areas that can easily support the growth of plants that bear fruit and vegies yet we waste it on a weed called grass, we water it, we mow it, we even fertilize it and it does us no other good then to raise the property value just because it looks pretty. Sure keep some grass for the kids to play on but I’m sick of areas complaining that they are in a drought yet they are very heavy in grass.

    In a new school we just built the courtyard areas that would normally have grass actually have strawberries. While I like the idea, fruit and kids don’t mix well in the hallways of a school.

  2. ndwoods says:

    It’s true that lawns drink a fair amount of water, and that most suburban yards would benefit from more creative thinking on how to use the outdoor space. But it’s not true that lawns are useless; rather they are the focal point of play for children in a yard, a place to have picnics and tea parties, a field for games, and an outdoor bed for daydreaming and watching the sky.

    We could use more gardens – I am personally fascinated by the idea of seeing how much food a typical suburban lot can produce. But it’s also important to preserve some space where kids (and big grown-ups) can have a comfortable place to play and rest and talk in the world outside – particularly in an age where so many kids spend too much time in front of computer and TV screens indoors. There needs to be something inviting to draw kids outside, and crushed granite and raised beds seem less conducive to a good game of duck-duck-goose or gymnastics practice.

    Lawns provide a great deal of utility for the people who live by them, but I’ll just touch on three: the lawn as a playground, the lawn as salon, and the lawn as a platform for day dreams. Lawns are the first place children run to when they want to play outside, especially small children. They know from experience that they’re likely to fall at some point, and they know it will hurt less if they’re on grass. Ask any kid where they practice their cartwheels or somersaults, and they probably won’t say they did it between raised and irrigated beds.

    Second, lawns make the outdoors more comfortable, and offer a cooler place to sit on than pavement or crushed granite, especially in hot summer months. A circle of chairs on a lawn, with or without a table, makes for a nice dinner room nurturing good conversation under a cloudless sky or the stars. Lawns let people kick off their shoes and give their toes a welcome respite, a chance to commune with a little bit of nature.

    Finally, a lawn can be as comfortable as a bed. As such, it’s an ideal platform for looking at the sky, a place where clouds are identified as cherubs or elephants, and from which one can watch a blue afternoon yield to an indigo dusk and eventually a purple night – at which point, it becomes an observatory.

    I wonder if some of the growing mistrust of lawns isn’t tied to our increasingly type A culture. We don’t really know how to relax, especially outdoors. Some people might feel that if they’re not being productive in their yards, they’re wasting their times. Lawns go against the grain; they are designed for play, laziness, musing. In a society measured by GDP, we may place little value on the ability to lie on soft grass and watch the light come through the leaves of a willow or sycamore. But let me be a voice for all those who are outside on their lawn right now instead of inside reading a blog. We really need what lawns have to offer.

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Luke Iseman

Luke Iseman makes stuff, some of which works. He invites you to drive a bike for a living (dirtnailpedicab.com), stop killing your garden (growerbot.com), and live in an off-grid shipping container (boxouse.com).

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