Turn Your Yard Into An Edible Oasis

By Crystal Stevens

August marks the beginning of the harvest season in the Midwest. Gardens and farms across the region have been hard at work since spring, planting seeds, weeding, watering and applying mulch. These gardens and farms are now bursting with juicy vine ripened tomatoes, an abundance of summer squash, green beans, herbs, kale, and other early fall greens. The life cycle of vegetable plants can take anywhere from 28 days to 140 days and anywhere in between. The seeds are an intelligent, life giving force. Seeds can be planted from late winter and early spring all the way through early fall. The seeds are planted; they crack open and germinate; the roots dig into the earth; cotyledons form, the stem strengthens and reaches for the sun. On some plants, blossoms form, fruits emerge, and the fruits form seeds. On other plants, leafy greens form; as their life cycle comes to an end, the plant flowers and forms seeds. We find the seed to table process truly miraculous.

Food plays such an integral part of our daily lives. We gather to eat. Gathering together to garden creates community. Growing food has amazing benefits. Homegrown organic produce is healthy and delicious. It encourages us to cook at home more. Growing food in common spaces brings the community together. Gardening attracts wildlife and beneficial insects.

The amount of lawns growing in the U.S. is startling, especially when we look at how many thousands of gallons of pesticides are being sprayed on these lawns. With billions of homes in the United States alone, non-sustainable front and backyards can truly leave a negative carbon footprint. Pesticide and herbicide residue from lawn applications can be found not only in the soil, but also in the water supply and even the air long after these chemicals have been applied to lawns. Over exposure to these chemicals has been linked to many life-threatening illnesses, including cancer. Beautiful lawns can be achieved naturally. Transitioning to a more sustainable lawn is a wonderful way to make a green contribution to the future of the planet. Foodscaping and native landscaping will attract pollinators and will make a huge difference in your region’s ecosystem. Join the good food revolution by transforming your yard into an edible oasis.

Crystal Stevens is an author, teacher, artist, farmer and a regular contributor to The Healthy Planet magazine. To find out more about Crystal and her two books, Grow Create Inspire and Worms at Work, please visit www.growcreateinspire.com.