Jordan Freytag + photo

Jordan Freytag

Aug 31
4 min read
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flowers and herbs in clay pots

Front Yard Food Production is not a new idea!

We recently got away for a weekend vacation (first one in 4 years!) on the Coast here in California. We rented a little house on a cove and after I packed the last of many boxes of groceries into the house I realized just how unsustainable we are as a people now. It wasn't just the many boxes of food we brought on this I sat on the deck and looked out across this craggy, rough remote point, I saw that someone had JUST built a huge house on the opposing bluff. I thought every bit of those people's food/nourishment/sustenance has to be brought in. It is grown miles away, trucked to a grocery store and then they drive to get it and bring it back. That is no small feat considering the nearest grocery here was 32 miles.

How insane as a people we are, I thought! We passed many turns of the century homesteads as we drove up and NONE of them back then could have existed without a garden. If you had a dry goods store in the nearest town, you still grew your vegetables. Really, it has only been in the last couple of generations that we have become so dependent on grocery stores for 100% of our food needs.

Why? Why do we do such an insane thing? We know that fresh food is much healthier for us. We know that we are running out of this cheap fuel source to transport food all over the world. We know that the cost of food is rising as the petroleum reserves run lower and lower each day. We also know that the giant agricultural farming methods are unsustainable and destroying our planet. We know they are feeding us unsafe food.

Then WHY do we just keep racing ahead like there are no consequences? Why does there have to be a collapse in the system before we start to change?

There doesn't! You can start today by planting a garden. Anywhere! You mark my words, humans will have to go back to more local food systems. We simply cannot sustain this monster that has been created. That means planting food in your town, community and front or backyard. It's not a new idea. The photo you see above was quite common only a few generations back.

Rip out those grassy front lawns that you throw chemical fertilizers on and mow every week using more petroleum further polluting the air! According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average home owner’s gas-powered lawn mower pumps out as much pollution per hour as 11 automobiles do! There are an estimated 1,300,000 gas-powered mowers, (and I believe this a low number) but still - what are we doing to the planet? And for what? A front lawn?

Then there is the water issue. Purdue University says 30-60% of all urban fresh water is used on lawns. Stop watering grass!!! It doesn't feed you.

What idiot decided long ago that it looked better and should be the standard for every block? And more interesting is why haven't you ever questioned this logic? Maybe you like pushing a mower in the heat or breathing the toxic fumes?

Why do you run out every year and throw pesticides and fertilizers on it, only to have most of it run down the gutter and into our nation's already polluted waterways? Lawns use ten times more chemical fertilizers than industrial farms. Why do most people watch environmental shows or hear a heart-wrenching lecture and still say "there is nothing I can do"?

You are wrong! You CAN do something! Stop fertilizing, watering and mowing something that is unsustainable! can't eat it. Unless you are a goat! Some of you would say that the neighborhood association says we have to have a front lawn. That is true. So what do you do in this country? You change that! Because some fool thought grass looked good in the post-WWII era doesn't mean we have to keep doing it. The reason humans have thrived is that we have learned to change.

It is time to change. Start a petition, be the movement in your neighborhood to change these outdated rules/deeds/laws. Set up community gardens on vacant lots. You may have been born into the idea of track housing or the suburb, but that doesn't mean you can't change it. You may not be able to move to the country and start the homestead of your dreams, but you can start planting in your own front yard today!

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Our front and back yard is mostly shaded by trees/bushes. What would grow well there? Zone 6


Hi there, I’ve been an avid gardener since I was a child, following my mama into the garden to help her. I’m now 84 and absolutely love to garden. I think that I was unable to have a garden in some form, I would shrivel up and die. We have recenty moved back to where we "call home " in Oregon. Because we are renting, I must garden in containers. Our back yard is miniscule and the outer edges of the back yard are planted in shrubs such as junipers. There are two HUGE Oak trees along the fence line. I’m hoping that they don’t prevent the sun from shining on my planned conainers of food. I will keep you posted as to how “my garden grows” from time to time. Oh I also plan on putting some of my containers of food in the side and front yard. The front, mostly consists of a driveway with a tiny planter area. It contains two large shrubs that I think are Camillas. These have been cut down to window level to maintain the look of manicured shrubs. However, I noticed large flower buds all along the sides of these two shrubs. I’m crossing my fingers that they will produce beautiful flowers for me. I have ordered many seeds from you in the past and will continue to do so in the future.. I live in zone 7

Lynn Williams

I’m 74 and when I was little, and we lived in the subburbs, Dad turned most of the flower beds into veggie and berry beds and he planted fruit trees, where most people planted shade trees. I asked him why and he said it does double duty – it gives food, shade, and beauty. Everywhere I have lived I’ve grown some of my food, in containers when I didn’t have the space and in raised beds when I did have space. It has brought me great joy and the best tasting food.

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