Food Not Lawns: Edible Gardens Move to the Front Of House

Mari Keating has been gardening organically for over 40 years, but a few years ago her interest in Permaculture led her to read Heather Flores’ book Food Not Lawns. It would prove to be an important source of inspiration that eventually led her to receive certifi cation in Permaculture design.

Food Not Lawns advocates replacing lawns with edible gardens to create thriving human and animal habitat that alters our relationship to the land where we live, reduces our carbon footprint, increases our health and well-being and creates community one yard at a time.

Keating was taken with the idea of sharing her values in the front yard the same way she displayed them in her backyard, so she began to replace her lawn with edible plants.

It’s meant more than just extra produce. Over time, she has forged new and better relationships with her neighbors as they stop by to look at what’s blooming and chat. “Cutting grass doesn’t connect you to your community in the same way that gardening does,” said Keating.

The “Food Not Lawns” movement started in 1999 in Portland, Oregon, where activists began growing food to provide free meals in a local park. Th is soon spawned an international movement. Local chapters started sprouting all over the country. Keating connected with the movement and started the local Cleveland chapter. Th ey held their fi rst event in January 2011, where members swapped seeds and stories. They hold monthly events that include seed and tool sharing, food preservation and learning about wild edibles. Mari is so excited that this conversation has been started locally that she has placed a bench in her front yard to encourage its growth.

All Food Not Lawns Cleveland events are free and open to the public and the group is currently accepting applications for lawn conversion design assistance. To learn more, go to Food- Th ose interested in getting involved locally can contact Mari at or join the Yahoo group at