I’m a big fan of the designer Fritz Haeg
, who is a proud member of the Glimmerati and whose book, Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn,
has just been released in a new, expanded edition. Haeg has been a champion of the growing movement to transform useless front lawns into gardens that produce food. The book’s expanded second edition documents
the eight Edible Estate prototype gardens that Haeg has designed and planted throughout the U.S.
Several years ago, Haeg got to wondering why people devote so much acreage and energy to something as unnecessary and uninteresting as a front lawn. As Haeg noted, lawns must be "maniacally groomed with mowers and trimmers” which in turn causes significant levels of pollution. They use up too much precious space, drink up too much water, require chemicals that kill off everything else in sight. And with all that work, tending them is not even a creatively satisfying act because the lawn is a celebration of “homogeneity and mindless conformity.” Haeg’s solution: Turn front lawns everywhere into food gardens. His Edible Estates Project has become a traveling exhibit that shows examples of lawn vegetable gardens as it tries to inspire others to “eat their lawns.”
The benefits of doing so, Haeg says, are considerable: You’ll help the environment, you’ll eat better, and you may even get to know your neighbors. Haeg points out that when you’re growing a garden in your front yard a funny thing happens: People notice and are inclined to stop by and ask how it’s going, while you, in turn, may be inclined to give them some extra food.
Haeg is a fascinating guy who, when not attacking front lawns, has made a specialty of designing informal gatherings and get-togethers, including a longtime series of “sundown salons” that he hosted at his home, a geodesic dome in the Los Angeles area. The gatherings were organized around celebrations of art, literature, or dance; they began with people Haeg knew and soon grew to include many he didn’t. Once he started doing the salons, Haeg then decided to set up an alternative school, which he called the Sundown Schoolhouse, right there in the dome. Once a week, he’d bring in an artist, scientist or filmmaker to share knowledge with a small group, “just as a way to open the door to another way of thinking.”
Haeg told me that one reason why he set up his informal schoolroom was because he rejects “this idea we have that learning only happens in a college classroom.” He adds, “I like the idea of learning from other people in a way that is kind of woven into your daily life, as opposed to being part of some colossal four year education program.”
No related posts, but check around GlimmerSite for lots of other interesting articles.