Lawns…the Unproductive Crop
As featured in Industry West Magazine’s SK Local Holiday Guide
Interested in having more control over your finances, healthier body, better access to quality food? Think urban gardening.
In North America, there are at least 25 million acres of lawn. This makes lawn the largest irrigated crop, twice the acreage of cotton.
Besides the waste of potentially productive land, lawns have other downsides including a $40 billion annual maintenance bill, 100,000 injuries per year from equipment, incorrectly applied fertilizers and pesticides, and 17 million gallons of spilled gasoline annually; 50% more than Exxon Valdez.
Lawns use lots of water. How much for a 1,000 square foot lawn?
According to the home improvement store Lowe’s, on a hot day, the 1,000 sqft. lawn requires 125 gallons of water. On a cool day, 10 gallons of water. Averaged out, this lawn uses 4,455 gallons of water annually.
Won’t a garden use more water than a lawn?
Not according to Urban Plantations, a San Diego firm specializing in alternatives to lawn in increasingly dry California. Urban Plantation’s research shows that a fruit and vegetable garden in the same space as a lawn reduces water usage by about 66%.
Make a real impact in your life and community; turn up your lawn and plant a garden.
In a world where food costs are rising and quality falls with every turn of the food truck’s wheels, there is an urban gardening movement afoot to empower communities, decrease our reliance on corporate agriculture and improve overall health.
Food deserts have sprung up in North American cities because gardening has fallen out of practice and civic regulations are often prohibitive.
Urban gardening is changing this unwelcome reality, putting quality food back in peoples’ control and improving health outcomes with no government expenditure or oversight.
It’s also a source of community pride and resiliency. Access to local, nutritious food improves quality of life and this opportunity resides right in the yard, balcony or patio. Anyone can participate and reap the rewards.
Famous gardener and TED Speaker Ron Finley says, “Growing your own food is like printing your own money”.
8 Personal Rewards
You become a person who can grow things!
Gardening is exercise and good for your health.
Journal of Health Psychology says gardening lowers stress levels.
University of Pennsylvania suggests you will get a better sleep.
Planting, weeding and harvesting works a variety of muscles, particularly your hands.
Finances improve, especially when planting expensive food that is easy to store and preserve.
Happiness increases when you garden (or walk in the wilderness). You inhale M. vaccae, a healthy bacteria that lives in soil and increases serotonin levels, reducing anxiety.
How Does Urban Gardening Help Your Community?
Sense of Belonging
Urban gardening brings people together who are independent, and sometimes isolated. Getting out of the house to keep the garden alive and productive builds food security and community cohesion.
Mastering techniques, planting for optimal sun exposure, temperature regulation and nutrient application requires research, effort and consistency.
Fresher, healthier, fewer miles in the food truck and less energy expended to get good food on your plate. Gardening helps you eat food that is in season and packed with vitamins. As well, because you took part in the process, you gain a respect and relationship with the food you’ve grown.
Eating healthy, organic produce can be expensive. Fortunately, having a garden helps to keep money in your jeans and provides you safe, nutritious food. Food security means being able to access and afford this type of food. Preservation and storage practices further increase food security.
By now you can tell that I’m trying my best to start a societal “evolution” based on the idea that if you take back your food, you take back your health as well as your resiliency in a seemingly chaotic world.
And a more chaotic world means the following according to climate author David Wallace Wells, “A hotter world means a world with less food, and what food remains will be less nutrient- dense per calorie.”
How Much Food Could We Produce?
According to Crop Yield Verification from gardenofeden.org, average production from one-acre of land would yield 10,840 lbs of food.
Let’s assume only 100,000 acres of the 25 million lawn acres would be used to produce local produce. That’s only 1:250 of total lawn in North America.
100,000 acres = 1,084,000,000 lbs of food.
That’s almost 1/3 of all food produced according to the World Economic Forum.
The big difference is that this food didn’t travel thousands of miles to arrive on your plate. Your nutrient rich produce came right from your backyard, porch or community garden.
How to Convert Lawn to Garden?
According to Jenine Kozey of Regina area’s Edible Landscapes Permaculture Design & Consulting, there are three ways to convert your yard and start producing fresh food.
First is to plant a perennial permaculture food forest in your yard. Once established, this design will produce food year after year from the spring right through to the fall.
Second method involves installing raised garden beds over the existing lawn using lasagna gardening methods; this technique focuses on the production of annual food crops without having to rip out sod.
Finally, you can actually turn over your grass, till the area and add an appropriate soil mix to achieve an in-ground garden, although this method is not recommended due to the labour involved and the pulverization of the soil, fungal connections, and disruption of soil life.
Get out your gardening tools, do a bit of research, transform your yard, get your soil right, plant your crop, look after it and watch it grow.
In your yard, in your community, in your control.
Personally, this spring I planted carrots, tomatoes, lettuce, beets, cucumbers and arugula. It’s a small start but it helped me envision how much food I could get off the small parcel planted (7’ x 4’) and how I could expand and improve yields in the future.
“Gardening is the most therapeutic and defiant act you can do.” – Ron Finley
Learn more frosted tips and dark web strategies in my Ebook, click HERE