“Lawns are an attempt to dominate and homogenize nature, something that hasn’t worked out very well. Gardens, however, especially urban ones, make visible “the intimate relationship between people, cities and food, constantly reminding us of the complexities and poetry of growing food and eating,” says Haeg. From which, just about everyone who’s thought about the subject agrees, we’ve all become alienated.
“And small-scale suburban and urban gardening has incredible potential. Using widely available data, Roger Doiron of Kitchen Gardeners International estimates that converting 10 percent of our nation’s lawns to vegetable gardens “could meet about a third of our fresh vegetable needs at current consumption rates.”
“Ten percent is optimistic; even 1 percent would be a terrific start, because there is a lot of lawn in this country. In fact it’s our biggest crop, three times as big as corn, according to research done using a variety of data, much of it from satellites. That’s around a trillion square feet — 50,000 square miles — and, since an average gardener can produce something like a half-pound of food per square foot (you garden 100 square feet, you produce 50 pounds of food), without getting too geeky you can imagine that Doiron’s estimates are rational.
“Lawns are not exactly the enemy, but they’re certainly not helping matters any. (For a real anti-lawn rant, see Ted Steinberg’s book “American Green.”) When they were used for grazing sheep — sheep are the best lawn-mowers — they made some sense. But as ornamentation, only a few parts of the United States have the climate to sustain them. (Kentucky bluegrass is not even native to Kentucky, let alone Arizona.) In the remainder they’re horrible water-wasters and enormous users of chemical fertilizer.”