I was very amused this month to read in Dwell Magazine about a suburban front lawn in Lakewood, CA that was turned into a vegetable garden by a group called Edible Estates, which is the notion of an L.A. artist/designer/vegetable-garden crusader named Fritz Haeg.
Now Edible Estates has a great cause. In fact, it’s MY cause! Stop wasting your land, you suburbanites! Get down on your knees and count your blessings if you own a small piece of green earth! Then, get off said knees and make it productive! Plant some pole beans! Or plant some crazy tulips and dahlias and at least make it beautiful and chemical-free, lest ye be turned into a pillar of salt!
But still, there is something hilariously fey about this particular endeavor, as described by Dwell. When the homeowners decided beans were better for the planet than Scott’s lawn-feed, did they buy a pick and shovel and packet of seeds from Lowe’s and just get dirty?
No, they found Haeg on treehugger.com and then competed with 40 other candidates to become Edible Estates’ next project.
The lucky Lakewood couple was chosen because of the man’s "thoughtful and articulate demeanor." (Wow, I got into the gardening fraternity just by digging.)
A team of 12 volunteers then descended on Memorial Day in order to plant a 20 by 38 foot space (nice, but not overwhelming for a single person if you have the place plowed first) with Haeg covering "the cost of all the planning and materials." (Again, I can’t help myself here: big deal).
Don’t get me wrong. I hope Edible Estates convinces all of Lakewood to rip out the lawn in favor of crops and that the madness spreads to Long Beach and beyond!
But I somehow fear such "projects" are more evidence of what a gardening culture America is not.
So what is the best way to spread this idea of the productive yard? I wish I knew. Teach people to fish rather than bringing them a fish? Convince scared non-gardeners that it’s not that hard? And when it is hard, it will help you lose five pounds.