“Grow food, not lawns.” That’s the tagline of Fleet Farming, a new organization in Orlando, Florida, that’s transforming lawns into gardens (they call them “farmlettes”) and then selling the produce at the local farmers’ market. It’s just one of a growing movement of environmentalists and food-lovers who think that yards should be used to grow fruits and vegetables, not grass.
It’s true that lush, green lawns can be environmentally problematic—they require lots of water, plus herbicides and pesticides that pollute the watershed. They contribute to climate change. And then there’s the matter of all that land—32 million acres of it in the United States—just sitting there looking pretty. Instead, it could be used to produce food.
For gardening and cooking enthusiasts, this is an appealing message. And indeed, in Orlando, Fleet Farming already has a waitlist of homeowners eager to donate their lawns. In exchange for the land, Fleet Farming staff maintain the farmlettes and the homeowners get a portion of the produce grown, including kale, collards, salad greens, citrus, avocado, beets, carrots, pumpkin, and mango. The rest of the produce—transported by bicycle—is sold at the nearby farmers’ market. The organization hopes to have 200 farmlettes up and running in the next four years.
For people who need a little more… excitement… with their environmental consciousness, there’s also a new reality show all about Millennials who move home to farm their parents’ yards. It’s called Yardfarmers (of course it is), and it is filming this year for release in 2017. The show’s creators promise drama with the local homeowners associations and hope that the show will spark a paradigm shift.