GOOD

Farming the Front Lawn

Spending an extended period of time around dirt, explains artist/activist/architect Fritz Haeg, is a deviant act. "In our society we are not...


Spending an extended period of time around dirt, explains artist/activist/architect Fritz Haeg, is a deviant act. “In our society we are not called citizens anymore, we are called consumers,” he says. “Our role, our job is to buy. Not only do we not need to have our hands in the dirt, it goes against this duty to buy, and not produce. We are subverting a passive role by getting our hands back in the dirt.”

It’s just that sort of activity that Haeg encouraged in his 2008 book, “Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn,” in which he urged people to rip out their grass and grow food instead. Since then, the interest in urban farming and community gardens has skyrocketed– so much that Haeg decided a new edition of Edible Estates was in order. “Today, the lawn represents what we want to escape.” says Haeg. “And the garden represents what we want to return to…

So Fritz, what do you have against lawns anyway?

It is the front lawn in particular that I would like to reconsider. It wastes resources, pollutes, isolates us from our communities and we rarely ever set foot in it! The project wouldn’t have developed the way it had if I hadn’t lived in L.A. where lawns are crazy, they just make no sense in that climate. The lawn really is the most visible, wasteful, unused space. As we spread out further, I think it makes sense to reconsider the land we have already claimed, and ask if it can be put to better use.

There is nothing remotely new about what I am doing. It’s really one of the most primitive and basic human occupations there is. The fact that it is a “story” worth reporting on says a lot about how far we have come….and who we are today.

How did the Edible Estates project originate?

I wanted to really think about how we’re living as Americans. Because I started out with that impulse I began with a common American space, the front lawn. It cuts across all economic, religious, and political boundaries. I decided to do something in the geographic center of the United States, which is in Salina, Kansas. A curator at the Salina Art Center there was doing a show on food so I proposed an edible front yard project.

You’re coming out with a new edition of “Edible Estates” just two years after its first publication. What’s changed since the first edition?

The mainstream dialog [about growing food] is something I didn’t anticipate at all. It’s amazing how quickly it’s become such a central topic. When my aunt in Omaha is aware of this stuff, I know it’s taken off. And these issues are not easily placed on a political spectrum. It’s not all lefties: whenever I do a new garden it’s always the local Fox affiliate that shows up with their cameras.

There’s also been a radical shift in the architectural community. Students are intensely interested in landscape– which was not the case when I was in architecture school. Really, students are wild about anything that’s questioning everything: You gave us lawns? We’re going to dig them up!

And there’s a new essay from Growing Power’s Will Allen?

Will Allen hadn’t really put anything in writing before so his essay in the book serves as a sort of manifesto. It broadens the conversation beyond simple issues of pleasure and aesthetics. It comes down to real food security issues that are much more urgent.

Are you growing food at your house?

Yes, but I’m not there to enjoy it [as I’m] traveling for these sorts of projects. The irony is that as I do more gardens for other people in different cities, I have less time for my own.

This post originally appeared on www.refresheverything.com, as part of GOOD's collaboration with the Pepsi Refresh Project, a catalyst for world-changing ideas. Find out more about the Refresh campaign, or submit your own idea today.

Articles
Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

The Climate Strikes were organized by children around the world as an extension of the of the "Fridays for Future" campaign. Students have been walking out of classrooms on Fridays to speak out about political inaction surrounding the climate crisis.

"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

Keep Reading Show less

September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Apple

When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

A dramatic new feature on the iPhone 11 Pro is its three camera lenses. The three lenses give users the the original wide, plus ultrawide and telephoto options.

Keep Reading Show less
Health
via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

Keep Reading Show less
Health