Sunday, April 26, 2015

Garden Profile: Brittany & Daniel Shultz in Knoxville, Tennesee's Apartment garden project

Brittany and Daniel Live in an apartment with no yard. They wanted to grow food anyway. Brittany writes:
Bike powered gardening!

Our amazing property management team allowed my husband and I to start a community garden on the common lawn. We have so far recruited 6 beautiful families and chatted with many lookie loos. We've made some great new friends, just last night one of the members cooked us traditional nepalese food in our kitchen! And the garden continues to pay forward. My mom, who has never grown food outside of tomatoes in a pot, is allowing me to take a third of her half acre and create space for all of the seedlings that we will thin as they pop up and all of the extra starts that need a home.
We started planting this week, and are one bed away from filling our spot. We've tried to be a diverse as we can and companion plant for better soil and pest control. We spent 2 weeks working the hard clay/rock mixture with sand and gave the water a path for drainage under the fresh top soil. This morning as I watered I could hear the water trickle down the slope and under the fresh soil in the beds.

Day 1: Excited husband!

Encouraging neighbors
Baby plants in the ground
Playing in the dirt!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

What if I don't have a lawn? Where to grow food if you don't have land.

by Heather Jo Flores

Lately there have been a lot of queries about how to grow food not lawns if you live in an apartment. Here is an excerpt from my book,  Food Not Lawns, How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden and Your Neighborhood into a Communitywith some ideas:

What If I Don’t Have a Lawn?
For people who are lucky enough to have fertile soil in their own yard, starting a garden is easy. For those who don’t have good soil—or don’t have a yard at all—starting a garden takes a little more effort. Most soil, especially in urban areas, responds well to organic improvements, and it usually makes more sense to build soil on a convenient spot than to travel far from home to garden in an area that is already fertile.

We’ll learn how to build good soil on any ground in a later chapter, but what if you don’t have a garden space at all? In the next few pages we’ll look at how to find places to grow gardens, and how to make the most out of the spaces you find. The biggest limit to what you can do is your own creativity, so see what you can think of and share your ideas with others. Ultimately city dwellers’ best resource is neighbors, so tap into their hearts and minds, and don’t hesitate to share your own.

The following land-access strategies will help you get started.

Monday, April 20, 2015

4 Rules for Growing Food in the Front Yard

by Heather Jo Flores

This is an excerpt from an article published recently in the North Coast Journal. Read the full article here:

Food Not Lawns: Bringing the Farm to Your Front Yard
The transformation of any lawn to a garden is always a good thing. However, growing food in the front yard becomes a statement to your community, telling them that you value homegrown food. Front yard gardens invite community dialogue, and bring fellow gardeners in the neighborhood out of the woodwork. Front yard gardens can also provoke complaints from the neighbors, however, so follow these four basic guidelines to help ensure those neighborly reactions are positive:
1. Be creative. Spend some time designing a garden that is beautiful and unique. Get some books on edible ornamentals and create a landscape people will see as a work of art.
2. Be consistent. Don't let the front yard get overgrown and unsightly. Keep up with weeding, mulching and pruning. Be ruthless with dead and diseased plants. If your energy for gardening wanes, scale back your plans and only grow what you can maintain.
3. Be charitable. Offer surplus produce, plants and seeds to your neighbors. Invite them to share in the harvest and offer to help them with their garden ideas. Neighbors who value you as a friend are much less likely to cause problems.
4. Be considerate. Understand that not everyone in your neighborhood will be as excited about growing food as you are. Don't leave piles of soil or cardboard in the driveway for weeks on end. Consider their needs and they will consider yours.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

2015 First Annual Food Not Lawns Edible Nation Tour

Share the Tour Schedule from Facebook Here!

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Heather Flores, author & founder of Food not Lawns will tour across the USA, giving workshops, planting gardens and building community.



  • June 23-24 New chapter launch: seed swap, roadshow and neighborhood design workshop in Lawrence, KS
  • June 25-28 Food Foresting with  Food Not Lawns Kansas City
  • July 2-5  Roadshow, Lawn Liberation & Neighborhood Design Workshop with Fort Wayne Food Lawns
  • July 24-25 New chapter launch: Seed swap, roadshow, neighborhood design workshop and lawn liberation in Clarkston, MI 
  • July 26 New chapter launch: Lawn Liberation & Roadshow in Detroit, MI 

Southeast and Southwest Tour in Spring of 2016

To book an event, contact us.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

How to Organize a Community Seed Swap in 7 Easy Steps

By Heather Jo Flores

Want to listen to a version of these instructions in audio format?

Whether you save your own seeds or just have a bunch of leftover packets from years past, a seed swap is a great way to expand the diversity of both your garden and your community. But don't limit yourself to just seeds! I have been organizing events like these for close to 20 years and folks have brought surplus plants, trees, garden supplies, food preserves and homebrews. A seed swap attracts more than just the local permaculture crowd. People from all walks of life have a passion for gardening and seed saving and this event can bridge gaps and build new friendships that lead to a close-knit and more sustainable community for everyone. Here's how:
Check out some great photos from seed swaps of the past, here.
And some more great photos, here

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Why I Hate Grass, or 'How to Kick Monsanto in the Balls. Article by guest blogger Steve Bivans

I hate grass.

Well, that's not really truthful.

It's not that I hate the plant–or I reckon it's plantS, since there are thousands of varieties of grasses–I actually love walking barefoot through cool, shady, dry grass in the summertime. No, mostly I just hate mowing. Why? Because I'm lazy. No, that's not true either. I just think mowing the lawn is a waste of time and energy. I'd much rather be sitting in my Adirondack chair drinking a pina colada, a beer, and reading a book than pushing some damned mower around the yard. So I rip up grass whenever I can find an excuse to do so. And now, since reading Ms. Flores' book, I do it with a real sense of purpose! It's not just to serve my inherent laziness but to feed the world! or at least to feed myself, which is pretty damned important, plus, I love 'maters. That would be TO-maters. I f'n love 'em.

But it's not just to feed myself, or the world that I consent to bend over and rip up my lawn. To get me to bend at all–I'm of the un-bendy sort, not a yoga master like Ms. Flores–you have to have some pretty compelling reason or mission. Feeding the world sounds pretty compelling, but in reality the world isn't lacking food. That sounds funny to say, since we all know there are people "starving in China"–as my parents always told us growing up. That was in the 70s, about the time that the U.S. government decided that farmers should "get big, or get out" and ramp up food production to "feed the world." Of course, the location of the starving children seems to have drifted over the decades since then, from China to Bangladesh–where ever the hell that is–to Ethiopia (where they apparently don't know when Christmas is, even though most of them are, you know, Christians), to Somalia, where most of them are not. It seems that no matter how much food we produce, children of all religions are still starving. Why is that?

Friday, March 6, 2015

12 Plants to Grow with Children

An excerpt from Food Not Lawns, How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden and Your Neighborhood into a Community, by Heather Jo Flores

Favorite Plants for Children’s Gardens

By no means an exhaustive selection of great plants for children to grow, the following twelve plants can all be direct-sown, grow quickly and easily, and are fun to harvest for food, cut flowers, or seeds.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Build a simple seed and herb drying rack

This is excerpted from Food Not Lawns, How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden and your Neighborhood into a Community, by Heather Flores.

Pros and Cons of Barnyard Birds

An edited excerpt from Food Not Lawns, How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden and Your Neighborhood into a Community, by Heather Jo Flores

Just a little chart I made up, based on my personal experiences with a small diversity of barnyard birds.

Gardener Profile: The Venturelli Family Front Yard

As shared by Raven Venturelli from Los Angeles:

In 2008 my mom, Jodie, heard a radio interview with Heather Jo Flores on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles / 98.7 FM Santa Barbara. My mom promptly bought Heather's book, enlisted my father, Angelo, to build two large compost piles in the back yard, and signed the whole family up for Larry Santoyo's Permaculture Design Course in LA. 

In early April of 2009, we hosted Larry's "Swan Song for the Lawn" workshop and converted the front yard to an organic edible paradise in one day! On average, we used slightly less water than we did on the lawn, but we obviously got so much more! The garden will be 6 years old come spring, and it continues to give on so many levels - the lessons, community, wisdom, insight and FOOD truly are priceless! The garden is constantly evolving and so are we!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Edible Weeds! 17 Wild plants that you can eat

An excerpt from Food Not Lawns, How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden and Your Neighborhood into a Community, by Heather Jo Flores

Garden Profile: Ashleigh Ferguson Schieszer of Cincinnatti

Ashleigh writes:

Unsure of what to do with a tiny weed-ridden front yard, we tilled the dirt, lugged home some brick and rock, and turned the sunny spot into a raised veggie garden with stepping stones.

Here is a photo-journal of her amazing alley-to-garden transformation!

Weeds and What They Tell, an excerpt from Food Not Lawns

Here's one of the charts from Food Not Lawns, How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden and Your Neighborhood into a Community, by Heather Jo Flores. This guide will help you figure out what your weeds are indicating about your soil. Many of these weds are also edible and medicinal! Enjoy!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Important SCAM Alert regarding and

Public Service Announcement. SCAM ALERT! Please share widely!
The Facebook Page "Grow Food Not Lawns" is in no way affiliated with the real Food Not Lawns organization and is a scam owned by an Anti-Semitic advertising company.

our legitimate Facebook page is and we ask for your support in keeping Food Not Lawns for People, not for Profit!

Yes, we know, this ain't pretty, but we believe that the real people in the sustainability movement need to be informed about the fact that they are being deceived.

the scam page is pictured here:

Yes, we know, this ain't pretty, but we believe that the real people in the sustainability movement need to be informed about the fact that they are being deceived.

The FB page pictured here and associated website, are a scam. They are owned by Eamon James Cahall and Perry Cahall. Eamon James Cahall was pushed out of the Occupy community in Vermont for posting Anti-Semitic propaganda, and has had Facebook pages removed for hate speech. 

These brothers won several sites on Facebook and the web. These are:
The Yardener
and many others. 

At first glance, these sites seem to provide useful information. But all of these websites are filled with content stolen from other websites--a basic phrase or google image search will take you to the original content. The Cahalls post the content with fake author names, no credit for the original authors and photographers, and no reference to the original site where the content was published. And they use the Facebook pages to drive people to their website, where they sell advertising. This not only disrespects the sources of those images,  it robs followers of the chance to connect with the real projects that have done that real work. Basically, Eamon Cahall and Perry Cahall are stealing from the real sustainability community to make money for themselves. 

In addition, they have now filed a fraudulent trademark claim, stating that they started Food Not Lawns in 1982 (the year Eamon Cahall was born) and have been using the name in commerce since then. If successful, they will take the name of our organization and keep it so that legitimate community groups who have been doing this work for over 15 years won't be able to use it.

We at the legitimate Food Not Lawns, which started in 1999, have retained legal counsel and are taking action against the Cahalls so that they cannot unlawfully steal our name for their own profit. If you would like to help, please contact us.

Please do not support "grow food not lawns," "realFarmacy" "" "strawbalecity" or "the Yardener." These are ALL SCAM SITES and are filled with plagiarized content. If you see your photos and writing on their sites, please file a report with Facebook. 

We here at the real Food Not Lawns are deeply grateful for your loyal support.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Cleveland Food Not Lawns: Mari Keating's Yard Transformation

Mari Keating had a fabulous garden in the back yard, but her front lawn looked like any other. She writes:

My permaculture design course included small group design charette.  When it came time to discuss my own yard, I was struck by a glaring truth.  All of my principles and beliefs were expressed in the backyard via rain barrels, compost bins, laundry lines and integrated beds of organically grown vegetables, herbs and flowers, while the front yard was the green square of conformity, a typical suburban lawn!  How on earth could I find community in my neighborhood when I didn't make who I was and what I believed in visible to the street?  My permaculture training enhanced what I had already been doing for many years, but Food Not Lawns provided the missing activism piece that encouraged me to be public and provoking.  I did my training in September of 2010 and had the first Food Not Lawns,Cleveland seed swap in January of 2011, and hosted a sheet mulch demonstration on my own yard in March!  The response has never been anything but positive and the rewards immeasurable on so many levels.

Here's a link to an article featuring Cleveland Food Not Lawns

And here's their Facebook page:

and the pictures!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Garden Profile: Leah Willis' lawn conversion

Leah writes:
We converted the front lawn of our Cleveland Heights, Ohio home in May of 2014. We did a sheet mulch workshop and several ladies came to learn and lend a hand. It was slow growing at first, but by July it was amazing. By far the most successful garden we have ever had. I so enjoyed having neighbors admire and pick cherry tomatoes as they walked by.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Garden Profile: Shawna Coronado's Front Yard Paradise

Now here's an example of how front yard food gardening can be even more beautiful than any ornamental landscape! Shawna writes about how she did it on her blog. Check it out! Inspiring!

Shawna's Food & Garden Blog

Garden profile: Ryan Harb's Lawn Conversion Project

I put out a call for before and after pictures of Lawn Conversions. Ryan Harb of Massachusetts writes:

Here's my front lawn permaculture garden / graduate thesis project. I was able to convince my university to do this on the UMass Amherst campus as a job after they saw it worked at my home!




Want to learn more about Ryan?

Ryan Harb, MS, LEED AP
Founder, Beyond Sustainability Consulting
Follow @RyanHarb
Facebook: @Ryan Harb

Just dig it up!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Wasted on Grass: Why You Should Get Rid of Your Lawn

Excerpted and revised from Food Not Lawns, How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden and Your Neighborhood into a Community, by Heather Flores (Chelsea Green, 2006)

French aristocrats popularized the idea of the green, grassy lawn in the eighteenth century, when they planted the agricultural fields around their estates to grass to send the message that they had more land than they needed and could therefore afford to waste some. Meanwhile, French peasants starved for lack of available farmland, and the resulting frustration might well have had something to do with the French Revolution in 1789.

Americans spend $30 billion every year to maintain over 40 million acres of lawn. Yet over 40 million people live below the poverty level. Even if only ⅓ of every lawn was converted to a food-producing garden, we could eliminate hunger in this country.

The lawns in the United States consume 800 million gallons of fuel every year and about 300 billion gallons of water a week. Lawns use ten times as many chemicals per acre as industrial farmland. These pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides run off into our groundwater and evaporate into our air, causing widespread pollution and global warming, and greatly increasing our risk of cancer, heart disease, and birth defects. In addition, the pollution emitted from a power mower in just one hour is equal to the amount from a car being driven 350 miles. 

Lawns use more equipment, labor, fuel, and agricultural toxins than industrial farming, making lawns the largest (and most toxic) agricultural sector in the United States. But it’s not just the residential lawns that are wasted on grass. There are around 700,000 athletic grounds and 14,500 golf courses in the United States, many of which used to be fertile, productive farmland that was lost to developers when the local markets bottomed out. Turf is big business, to the tune of around $45 billion a year. The University of Georgia has seven turf researchers studying genetics, soil science, plant pathology, nutrient uptake, and insect management. They issue undergraduate degrees in Turf. The turf industry is responsible for a large sector of the biotech (GMO) industry, and much of the genetic modification that is happening in laboratories across the nation is in the name of an eternally green, slow-growing, moss-free lawn. 

These huge numbers are overwhelming,but they make the point that lawns are not only an inefficient use of space, water, and money; they are seriously contributing to the rapid degradation of our natural environment. If we truly feel committed to treating the earth and each other with equality and respect, the first place to show it is by how we treat the land on which we live. 

It is time to grow food, not lawns! The reasons include reducing pollution, improving the quality of your diet, increasing local food security, beautifying your surroundings and improving your mental and physical health. You will save money, help the planet and enhance your connection with nature, your family and your community.

What have you got to lose besides a few blades of grass?

check out this link:

Statistically Speaking: Lawns by the Numbers

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