Fleet Farming is on the leading edge of a revolution in food and farming:
“I just think that the whole idea of lawns, especially in a place like Florida, is absurd,” says Henderson, standing amid rows of tomatoes, sweet lettuce, carrots and arugula growing smack in the middle of his front yard.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. That’s a quote from this recent NPR article:
In Florida, homeowners have a propensity for landscaping. They take great pride in the green carpet of grass in front of their homes. But one Florida man is working on a project that’s turning his neighbors’ lawns into working farms.
Chris Castro has an obsession — turning the perfectly manicured lawns in his Orlando neighborhood into mini-farms.
“The amount of interest in Orlando is incredibly surprising,” Castro says.
Surprising because he’s asking Floridians to hand over a good chunk of their precious yards to volunteers who plant gardens full of produce. His program is called Fleet Farming, and it’s starting off small, with 10 of these yard farms. Most of them sit smack in the middle of the front yard.
Lawns are a thing here. Urban farms? Not so much. But so far, no neighbors have complained.
“We’ve been lucky,” Castro says.”
“Fleet Farming transforms unproductive, wasteful lawns into community-driven urban farm plots. Rather than traveling 1,500 miles from farm to plate, our produce is hyper-local. Everything we grow is sold at local farmers markets and restaurants within a 5 mile radius!
Our bike-powered fleet eliminates nearly all fossil fuel consumption during production and transportation, not to mention it reduces the emissions that would have been produced from mowing lawns. Lastly, we are reducing pollutants in our community by cutting the use of harmful pesticides and fertilizers on lawns and using organic methods to grow food instead.”
They have been lucky for sure, though the ground has been softened up a bit by previous fights in Orlando. In the past I covered Orlando’s ridiculous fight against the Helvenstons’ garden… then interviewed Sean Law about his illegal front-yard garden.
The Helvenstons won their fight… but Sean lost his fight… and his house!
Grow Or Die: The Good Guide to Survival Gardening keeps selling copies because we all know this whole rotten system is going to change and change soon. Local food and survival gardening go hand in hand.
Now it seems Orlando may be coming around. The pressure keeps rising as more and more individuals realize the current paradigm is a mess. They’re ready to do something about it. Fleet Farming is a great idea, as is replacing your lawn with food.
I’d love to see this idea move beyond non-profit activity and expand into a profitable business for small farmers across urban areas. There are lots of lawns sitting unused… and there is plenty of demand for good local produce.
Keep up the good work and great ideas, folks.
*H/T to Steve G. and Cary The Bad for sending me articles on Fleet Farming.