Although I have failed miserably at growing an uber urban garden, I believe that lawns are such a colossal waste of space and water. When we lived in the Okanagan Valley (British Colombia interior), I was shocked at the BROWNNESS of the non-human regulated nature-spaces. It is, however, a semi-arid desert (complete with tumbleweeds) so it was supposed to be brown. Everything except the suburban lawns. Green green green sucking up LOADS of water during the minimal rain summers.
And for what? It's not like anyone really USED them for anything (at least in Vernon). Hanging out on your front lawn just is kinda creepy.
That's why urban front kitchen gardens are so amazing. Why not use that space (especially if you live in a low-traffic suburban neighbourhood- less car fumes) to grow food?
Recently a Quebecois couple's small kitchen garden (called a "potager"- /poh-tah-zj-ay/- in French) have received quite a bit of international and national media attention. They have created an absolutely beautiful front kitchen garden complete with a gorgeous trellis this summer to try to supplement a healthy, more vegetable filled, diet. Josée Landry and Michel Beauchamps even received permission from the city to grow 'something other than lawn and flowers'. Except they didn't specify a garden. And now the city is kinda pissed.
(fantastic photos with Josée and Michel discussing urban gardening (in French) in audio)
Josée and Michel's backyard is shaded, so they thought- why not take advantage of all the beautiful sun in their front yard? They spent thousands of dollars to create a gorgeous garden (that seems to be doing very well) only to be informed by city officials that they are in violation of city by-law and must revert their garden to at least 30% 'regular' front lawn. Seriously??
(garden after- photos from Le potager urbain)
Due to the International and National interest, the city has granted Josée and Michel until September 1st to revert their kitchen garden and supposedly the topic will be on the agenda at the August 13th council meeting. Although a reprieve and a good step, this beautiful initiative should not be punished, but encouraged.
In order to rethink and move forward with how we live and obtain our food, encouraging people to be more self-sustaining and growing kitchen gardens should become the cultural norm.
Take a minute, sign the petition, send the letter (even if you can't read it- I assure you it says exactly what you want it to :) ), and find out what your local city, town, municipality's by-laws are for front yard gardens.
The couple's website: Le potager urbain (in French)
The couple's own petition (in French)
Roger Doiron's petition (bilingual English-French)