The New York Times brings us this story of the Foti family and their participation in the Edible Estates project, a self-described "attack on the American front lawn and everything it has come to represent" (oh, how those words quicken our pulse. We have yet to see a photo of founder Fritz Haeg, but we may just nominate him for Sexiest Gardener on the strength of his prose alone.)
But back to the Foti family. They agreed to participate in the project and turn their southern California lawn into an overflowing vegetable garden, much to the consternation of their neighbors, who came up with gems like this when asked to provide a quote for the Times:
“What happens in the backyard is their business,” said a 40-year-old high-voltage lineman who lives down the street and would give only his initials, Z.V. “But this doesn’t seem to me to be a front yard kind of a deal.”
(and notice, by the way, how nicely designed and well-behaved this garden is. Oval beds, paths in between–it’s hardly a bunch of row crops, after all.)
The Foti family’s blog chronicles their growing garden and also provides a place to mediate on the meaning of that public-private space that is the front yard. Michael Foti wrote a great post on June 19 about the many people who drove by his home after the LA Times printed the address in a story about the garden. He says:
I guess that in person, one of the things that is most striking about the garden when you first see it is how open and close to the sidewalk it is. How vulnerable it seems. There’s no fences or anything to keep anybody out. It really makes you aware of how most lawns function as kind of buffer between public and private space. In a way, it sort of illuminates the value of a lawn to most people – not worth stealing, and useful only to the extent that it keeps people away, or doesn’t need to be worried about.
Fotis, we’re cheering you on. Anybody who grows zukes in the front yard and raises chickens in the back yard is one of us. Rock on, guys.