July 1, 2012

Grow Food, Not Lawns

A garden is pure, joyous, abundance

When I was a kid I lived in a neighbourhood dominated by, like most in N. America, manicured lawns. Although some homes had gardens in the backyard, all had expanses of green, weed-free grass up front for everyone to see and admire. Except one.

I never knew who lived in the house that was the one holdout in a sea of high maintenance living carpet. But I sure did admire the homeowner that dared to be different, and planted their entire front yard in potatoes every year.

I passed by the 'potato farm' on my way to elementary school, and it was my island of sanity on that walk. Something felt right about it.

It was probably what I perceived as a blend of practicality and defiance for the rules of a confused, and confusing, system.

As a kid, that made a lot of sense to me. It still does.

Update: Here is another front garden. You can't say it doesn't look 'neat', a common complaint of neighbours.


  1. I agree, wasting all our land on grass seems like such a waste.I haven't take the plunge to get rid of any yard yet, but it does make so much more sense. Plus it seems like the time to garden would take less than the time perfectionists spend mowing, feeding, watering, etc., etc. their yards.

  2. e.a.f.7/02/2012

    I loved the article, especially the section about potatoes. When I was a kid people planted potatoes the first yr. so they could get the soil up to standard for the lawn. So the first yr. you had potatoes & the second yr. a lawn. I think the potatoes the first yr, most likely helped the family budget also.

    Urban/suburan front lawns would be idle to grow a veg. garden, even if it was just potatoes. They are very easy to grow, plant them & wait. As we have seen this past while, with huge fires, droughts, high temps. in the U.S.A. & rain which is drowning crops, food security is an issue. Food prices will be going up.

    Even if you decide a garden is too much work, you can always plant fruit trees & trade with a person who has the veggies. Blue berry bushes are great for the garden also. Easy to pick & easy to trade.

    During WW II a lot of food was grown in peoples' yards. They did it for "the good of the country". With the enviornmental impact agra business has on the enviornment we might want to look at growing on our food again for the "good of the country".

  3. Anonymous2/08/2013

    I am starting my front yard garden this year. Our soil is awful, all clay and rocks, so I'm starting with sugar beets to loosen things up--I will donate them to a farmer or to the compost pile when they are done "digging". While they work underground, I plan a nice thick row of millet and qiunoa or amaranth masqueading as ornamental grasses, surrounding a stand of sunflowers. Some pole beans can grow up the sunflowers. In front of the "ornamentals", I'll have a nice collection of tomatoes and peppers in pots surrounded by marigolds and zinnias for color, and to discourage pests. My family will have some seeds, grain and vegetables, and there will be plenty left for the birds over the winter. Who could complain about that?

    My back yard has a steep slope and faces north, so it's not good for food plantings, but I have plans for it, too! Can't wait to get started!

    1. Anonymous6/24/2015

      I have the same problem...lousy soil in front and north facing in back. I do have 2 raised beds in the back that get about 6-8 hours of sun. Thanks for the beet idea.

  4. Anonymous4/27/2014

    Things come slow here in the southern U.S. where I live. I was driving through a neighborhood yesterday and saw a man out planting a garden in his side and front yard. It was a small yard and he was making the most of the space. It was wonderful to see what he is doing. In another neighborhood, I saw that someone had put up a wooden box out near the street with books to be swapped. It is a community free library box. I've seen them online, but was struck to see it here in the south where new ideas seem to take so long to manifest.
    There is very little support here for those like me who want to live out of mainstream. Yet, the library box and the garden yard show bright promise. It's uplifting to see these changes.

    1. Terri,

      There is hope. Every step we take matters.

    2. Anonymous6/24/2015

      I love this idea. My dad came here from Poland in 1929. When I was a little girl,I am now 66) he would say "if you can't eat it , don't plant it." The only grass we had was a small plot in the back so my mom could hang her clothes outside without walking through the garden. He kept it that way until he got too old to take care a a very large garden.

    3. Anon,

      The people that came to North America back in the day were very resourceful, like your father. We need to be more like them now. We can't wait - now is the time to plan yards and gardens that we can eat. Just like the old days. We will all benefit from returning to sanity.

  5. fantastic idea! thank you for sharing.


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