When Purdue University professor Ian Lindsay and his wife moved to a suburban lot in West Lafayette, IN, several years ago they decided to put their extra energy and time into growing food, rather than lawn, in their front yard. I discovered Ian’s garden on a bike ride last summer, and talked with him about the politics of food choices, front yard garden aesthetics, and the wisdom of drip irrigation.
With urban farming becoming more popular and more common, people are starting to consider their front and back yards as a potential space for growing healthy, organic produce. Yet, front yards may actually be off limits if you’re thinking of starting a food garden. Various city ordinances and, in some neighborhoods, your Home Owner’s Association (HOA) may threaten you with a misdemeanor and hefty fines if you incorporate unusual, tall or non-decorate plants into your front yard.
Is this a benign effort to protect property values and to conform to a certain standard, or is this a sign of a larger conspiracy by mega-food companies to protect their market strong-hold by exerting influence over local government?
Growing plants that produce food in tandem with plants that support the ecosystem and attract native bugs and pollinating bees, is an effective method of creating an edible landscape, and an important part of bringing about an equitable food system. Vegetables and flowers mixed together in geometrically-positioned raised beds, planters and containers, or in-ground lots can make for a very productive and attractive front yard garden….