Lawns, So Last Century

Sustainability Defiined

It seems like everywhere you look valley residents are removing lawn and replacing it with edibles. A delicious trend that is just beginning to take root!

Charles Lind of Corvallis

It’s estimated that Americans spend between seven and twenty billion dollars a year on residential lawn care. The figures seem to vary wildly depending on who is delivering them, and which area of the country they reference. There has also been speculation that turf grass helps lower greenhouse gasses by absorbing Co2, and that turf grass creates a cooling effect. That may be true, to some extent. Of course we then are forced to choose either an unkept, lawn that looks like we’ve long ago lost the race to “keep up with the Jonses” or spend countless hours edging, mowing, weeding, airating, feeding, and whatever else happens to make some lawns look like glorius waves of green, suburban heaven. It’s always been a mystery to me. The question is, what happens to the possible benefits of turf grass when power equipment and fertilizers are introduced? Nothing good, is my guess.

Cheery colors beat boring lawn!

Not to mention watering. It’s a lot of water, even here in the Willamette Valley, where we have an automatic watering system that turns on every fall and runs almost continuously through what most of us, for some reason, think should be spring. Watering is therapeutic, given the hypnotic state one enters watching the water float through the air on it’s way back to the earth. Of course we’re snapped back to reality when the bill arrives from the city outlining all the water we’ve lovingly sprayed all over the place – wait, what?

The new trend of replacing lawn with food is often compared to “victory gardens” — the home gardens planted by those doing their part to achieve victory in WWII.

But can it really help? Well, get this – from Wikipedia:
The US Department of Agriculture estimates that more than 20 million victory gardens were planted. Fruit and vegetables harvested in these home and community plots was estimated to be 9-10 million tons, an amount equal to all commercial production of fresh vegetables.

Carolyn Heggen is looking forward to a block party, with plenty of fresh produce!

Not bad for a bunch of plain old folks. In March of 2009, First Lady Michelle Obama planted a “Kitchen Garden” on the White House lawn to raise awareness of fresh food. Of course, it wasn’t exactly Michelle herself out there tilling and digging, she is after all, the First Lady. But we get the idea, and applaude her efforts. The last garden at the White House was planted by Eleanor Roosevelt! It’s about time.

So it seems, the perfect lawn is no longer the status symbol of the “burbs” it’s perfect peas!

For more:
sustainablecorvallis.org (click the food action team link)
www.suburbanpermaculture.org
foodnotlawns.com

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