Lawns are ubiquitous in the United States and according to a 2015 NASA study, they take up three times as much space as the next largest irrigated crop, corn. These familiar patches of green require 9 billion gallons of water per day, around 90 million pounds of fertilizers and 75 million pounds of pesticides per year. Plus, the lawnmowers that maintain them largely use gas and emit pollutants. All for a crop we can’t eat.
A growing group of people and businesses are trying to change that. For over a decade, “unlawning,” or the act of turning sterile lawns into fertile, edible landscapes, has been gaining popularity in the United States. These edible yards aren’t just backyard garden plots with a few squash and tomato plants, rather they are landscapes that incorporate edible native plants, like paw paw trees or bush cherries, along with fruit trees, pollinator habitats, medicinal herbs and water features.
One well-known proponent of edible landscapes is Fritz Haeg, an artist who in 2005 began a years-long project called “Edible Estates,” during which time he traveled the country and turned ordinary yards into edible masterpieces. In the years since Haeg’s project, there has been a steady growth in awareness of edible landscapes in the U.S.
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