I just returned from a trip to Portland and I’m very excited. Yes, the city is nice, the weather was amazing and the babies in Birkenstocks were adorable – but this is not what has me wound up. I’m excited about …THE FRONT YARD GARDENS!
While walking around different neighborhoods I saw garden beds tucked in amongst perennial flowers and shrubs, filled with tomatoes, greens and herbs. These were beautiful old residential areas with a strip of grass between the sidewalk and road and often time a garden bed was squeezed into the small space. It was inspiring to see so many households growing a few vegetables and not just for obvious reasons. Growing your own food is generally preceded by a concern or desire to be healthier, know where your food comes from, save money, cook more at home or be more self-sufficient. I admire all of these reasons and I do my best to promote them in my gardening classes and everyday life.
Sacramento has its own thriving agriculture scene and continues to see more people participate in urban gardening and farming. Unfortunately, this growth has not altered many front yards and the green lawn ideal continues to prevail. The City of Sacramento passed an ordinance in 2007 allowing fruit and vegetables in the front yard but gardens have been slow to catch on. I know there are a variety of other reasons for this, like the expense of ripping up a lawn and replanting or a neighborhood association allowing only lawns. It might also be that people think their vegetables could be taken if they are visible from the street. Now I haven't scouted every neighborhood and I'm sure there are pockets of front yard gardens, but would not it be great to see more? Instead of all that grass growing, it would be nice to see food growing! How much food could you grow in place of your lawn?
Submitted by Kate Wilkins, AmeriCorps VISTA at Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services.