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Linda Buzzell: Is Your Yard an Ornamental Desert?

July 22nd, 2009, 12:07 am admin Leave a comment Go to comments

If the trucks ran short of fossil fuel and the supermarkets sold off their 3 days worth of food, is there anything to eat in your garden — or on your patio or balcony? Or in your neighbor’s yard?

Most suburban yards (and government and business landscapes) are chock full of pampered plants that perform just one function: looking good.

Our hungry/thirsty lawns, fancy ornamental shrubs and flowery perennials aren’t just there for us to enjoy but also to impress our neighbors and the local realtors. In fact, some real estate developments and condo associations mandate certain plantings — almost always solely ornamental. Dare to plant a few veggies in your front yard and you may hear from the ornamental plant police!

But there’s a new movement in landscaping, away from “ornamental deserts” and towards local food security. It’s called edible landscaping — or “foodscaping.” These gardens combine beauty and food in an aesthetically pleasing and tasty combination.

The idea is that to be truly sustainable, we must use at least some of the land we live on to provide a portion of our own food. Local food is healthiest as it hasn’t traveled for days in a truck or plane, losing nutritional value. And you can’t get much more local than your own yard.

The desire to grow at least some of our own food is sweeping the country. Seed sales are up. Even the Obamas are in on the trend, digging up part of the White House “ornamental desert” to put in a few veggies.

For some of us, the goal is just to save a few pennies at the supermarket or eat fresher food. But veggie-mania is part of a larger back-to-nature trend. People are discovering that nature-connection of many kinds is profoundly healing and satisfying.

Pulling up part of your ornamental desert to grow some edibles doesn’t mean you have to grow all your food yourself, of course. In many towns around the world neighborhood food exchanges are popping up, where folks share the bounty of their very different gardens. You bring your string beans, and I’ll bring my apricots.

And community gardens in many towns offer places for folks without gardens to grow their tasty, healthy edibles and meet the neighbors.

It’s all good medicine for our bodies, minds and souls.

For more info check out…

Heather C. Flores’ inspiring book Food not Lawns, How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden and Your Neighborhood into a Community.

Food not Lawns International

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