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Edible Estates, Los Angeles
Micki Krimmel, 6 Oct 06

Edible Estates, Los AngelesThe Edible Estates reading room and lecture series launched with a reception in Los Angeles last night. Los Angeles is home to the second edition of the Edible Estates initiative, a community eco-art project aimed at replacing the American front lawn with a bountiful, self-sustaining, food-producing garden. Produced by Fritz Haeg’s Gardenlab, the initiative will span the country, building a prototype garden in nine cities over the course of several years. Each garden will be planted in the spring and the first season's growth will be documented and displayed as a public exhibition.

The Foti family of Lakewood, CA volunteered to host the most recent Edible Estate in their front yard. Lakewood is the quintessential American suburb. Developed in the 1950’s, it is the west coast twin of Levittown. Thousands of virtually identical houses sprawl across 3,500 acres of well-planned streets, each surrounded by a buffer zone of unused space – the American lawn.

In a video screened at the reception, the Foti family shared their experience of the first season with their front yard garden. They spoke about the health benefits of their new diet abundant in fresh vegetables. They mentioned their renewed connection to their food, the seasons and the world around them. Their formerly unused lawn became a place to spend time together and for the Foti children to play. The lawn that used to act as a “moat,” shielding the Foti’s from the rest of the neighborhood, transformed into a meeting place for curious neighbors, building ties within the community.

Urban agriculture is rare in Los Angeles, a city that recently lost its most famous community farm, the South Central Farm to make way for warehouses. One thing LA has in abundance, however, is lawn space. Lawns cover more than 1.6 million acres in California. According to the Edible Estates informational flyer, every hour of lawn-mowing produces the same amount of harmful, smog-forming emissions as 40 new cars run for an hour, and more than 50% of domestic water use in LA is used to keep lawns green. It’s not difficult to imagine the positive ripple effects of Angelinos putting just a fraction of that land and water to good use by growing their own food.

Gardenlab is determined to give people the tools and information they need to do just that. The lecture series will continue at LA’s Machine Project for the next month. Events include a presentation by Michael Foti, gardening classes, lessons in composting, film screenings and poetry readings. The reading room includes a comprehensive selection of books and resources for gardening in southern California and all the information you would need to start your own front yard garden. Many resources can also be found on the Edible Estates website. With any luck, Edible Estates will sprawl across Los Angeles and beyond.

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Brilliant idea and timely. In Texas, rain is rare. How many citizens would choose to graze om their front yards to hydrated? None, I'm sure. When will the program get to Austin? Or, perhaps we might build food growing into our eco-art projects situated around town.

Posted by: Yvonne M Hansen on 6 Oct 06

I'm here is South Austin and my street is slowly being xeroscaped but I want to grow veggies and herbs but the rain is an issue.

Posted by: Melissa on 21 Oct 06

Melissa, have you considered drip irrigation? A great way to get water exactly where you need it while conserving heaps of it at the same time.

Posted by: Matthew on 28 Oct 06



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