Central Virginia Organic Gardener

"And 'tis my faith that every flower enjoys the air it breathes." - William Wordsworth, 1798

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Book Review: Food Not Lawns

Book Review: Flores, H.C. (2006) Food not lawns: How to turn your yard into a garden and your neighborhood into a community.VT: Chelsea Green Publishing Co.

I picked up this book because of the cover. Or rather, I picked up this book because of the title. I dislike lawns and am an great proponent of converting lawns into gardens for beauty, pleasure and food production. This is not just a how-to garden book, it is a book espousing a particular philosophy of gardening, one I agree with for the most part. I approve on the emphasis on local, organic food (and how much more local can you get than your own yard???), converting wasted lawn to growing space and the ideal of community life. I like the helpful tips on seed saving, building the soil, polycultures and improving the soil, among others.
What I don't like about this book are a few things: first, assertion that organic food can cure all sorts of ills, from depleted energy to bipolar disorder. If it only it were that easy! And if only there was more than anecdotal evidence of this. I do believe a lifetime of a healthy, organic, vegetable-dominant diet may be able to prevent some ills, but cure them? Second, I don't think this book will reach the main steam due to some of the author's stated beliefs about food and life, it might be too "radical" for some. But if you can get past this, it has some good idea and funny moments (the section on the pro's and con's of backyard fowl are funny "ducks are loud and quite stupid..." turkeys are "big, mean and ugly. They will chase children and demolish the garden....Guinea fowl make a hellish screeching sound similar to that of a busted fan belt on a car..."). Another concern I have is with the author's sourcing, which may not always be the most authoritative. My last concern is related to the index: I love a good index, one that makes it easy to find information, and I understand it can be hard to compile at times. I knew that there was a section comparing backyard birds, but could find no related entry in the index under poultry, chickens, backyard birds or fowl.
If you are interested in converting some or all of your lawn into garden, this book is a good reference, take from it what you can use.
Happy gardening!


Anonymous said...

Another inspiring text is called Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn by Fritz Haeg. Have you seen this one? He transforms lawns in several parts of the country into edible gardens. His website is http://www.fritzhaeg.com/edible-estates-book.html

Very inspiring.

Anonymous said...

Indeed I have- I also heard the author interviewed. Will check out his website