Condo-living has made this sort of a moot-point for me at this juncture, but architect Fritz Haeg’s Edible Estates concept is such a good one that I must share now, and once we get the coveted place in the ‘burbs, we’ll let you know from experience how it goes.
The general idea is that front lawns are a waste of space and energy, of little aesthetic value, and can even have an isolating, anti-communal effect. They consume resources and time, and yet return no practical or social benefit (unless you count “having the best lawn” bragging rights).
Mr. Haeg has suggested that we get rid of our front lawns and replace them with productive gardens. His first prototype front-garden in Salinas, Kansas now produces everything from strawberries and peaches to Swiss chard and green chilis. And, according to the homeowners, “We probably met more of the people on the block, and had more interaction with them, because of the garden”. And while the owners say they spend about the same amount of time weeding and tending their garden as they did mowing and fertilizing the lawn, that time spent is much more rewarding and communal. After all, its much easier and pleasant to chat with family or passing neighbors as you harvest green beans than it is to holler over the roar of the lawn mower.
The front-garden not only makes useful a formerly useless space, but also changes for the better the life of a family and even to some extent the community at large, creating a nurturing, productive, aesthetically satisfying space that gives people the opportunity to reconnect to the seasonal rhythms of labor and harvest that our good God has given to us.