Lawn Farming

In America, we spend this astronomical amount of money and effort growing lawns. It is said that this comes from the experience of the great plains somehow, and it is nice to have the grass cut in the places that we walk. It is for many a kind of yard art, the semblance of a liberal art, to have well trimmed bushes and edged sidewalks, and in the communities it is in part an obligation But this investment is a bit embarrassing from a world perspective, or even as a way to spend the GNP. So we might rethink it.

Everyone in the burbs has a lawn tractor, in the upper middle class, and a lawn service in the upper class. Lots of adolescent entrepreneurs started good businesses on lawn care, and now they buzz and blitz through neighborhoods with these super-dexterous machines, and then do edging, and then blow the grass off pavement. Huge lanscaping companies reap a fortune selling yard trees that produce nothing, bushes without berries, because people do not want the mess of fruit. Why not substitute gleaner companies and neighborhood projects to add to the store of food for security and charity? And we would then have something to do for the kids, when they are not playing baseball games between the subdivision teams. Sub Urban farming.

We cut away a lot of good things, and people have just lately begun to save the wildflowers, having heard about the trouble of the butterflies and bees. The problem, again, with GMO’s in maybe not so much chemical or biological as it is ecosystemical: The GMO- pesticide system is really very dangerous done wrongly, and the harms cannot be foreseen. The Monsanto-Roundup system seems to have caused the butterflies and bees to disappear, and we ought consider hormonal poisons when we use lawn weed killers. Turns out we were managing the ecosystems without knowing it, and it is not surprising that a blind driver will go off the road, or that the result would be disastrous. But maybe the ecosystem, with a little help, can recover. Yet I would not get my compost from the city compost lot of lawn clippings, at least until we make clean piles.

So, what if a group something like the gleaners, who collect and distribute food, what if a group would persuade these conscientious trash re-cyclers to devote a quarter, or even an eighth of each area under cultivation in lawn farming rather to some food crop suited to the purpose, say wheats or soybeans, or sugar beets, whatever turns out to fit the program. Sunflowers might be nice in the wasted spaces between the lots. Yesterday, we wondered if a grass might be grown short, to have the seed down low, or some other way of combining the ideas of lawn and produce. The surplus, after expenses, might even be stored or sent to places that happen to be short on food, like Nepal in the earthquake or places of war and drought. If one in one hundred lawn farmers would take them up on it, the effect might be significant. Such a thing could become very fun and fashionable, like compost piles have become over the past ten years.

This appeared because every year, about May and June, I much regret the time spent farming the lawn, when I could be planting raspberries or grafting fruit trees, cleaning the garage and shed, or working on the roofs, or making strawberry rhubarb pie. Some of it, too, I’d be sure to muse away.

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