Front lawns are all too common across the United States, yet they produce a huge amount of pollution through absorbing fertilizer and pesticides. Homeowners use 800 million gallons of gas to mow 40 million acres of lawn. Fleet Farming, an organization started by Heather Groves and Chris Castro in Orlando, Florida, aims to reduce pollution by transforming those inefficient lawns into gardens that provide food for local communities.
It’s not only lawns that are an issue, but our food systems. According to Fleet Farming, “33 percent of climate change can be attributed to food production systems.” Food is often transported hundreds of miles, consuming fossil fuels, and much of it ends up in the trash can. One front lawn at a time, Fleet Farming is working to fight this waste and combat climate change.
They convert grass lawns into gardens, called ‘farmlettes,’ and grow fruits, vegetables, and herbs. So far 11 Florida lawns have been changed into gardens. Fleet Farming volunteers maintain the farmlettes and harvest the produce. They transport it to the local farmer’s market using only bicycles to ensure their program is as sustainable as possible.
Homeowners agree to let their yard be used as a farmlette for at least two years, and they can eat some of the food grown in their yard. While volunteers do maintain the gardens, the organization encourages homeowners to be as involved as they’d like.
The idea has sparked interest around the country, and Fleet Farming offers kits so other communities can implement their own programs. Volunteers in Oakland, California started a Fleet Farming, and sell the food they harvest to restaurants in the area.
Florida residents are excited about the program too; 300 families are already on the waiting list to give their lawns to the cause.
Images via Fleet Farming’s Facebook