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Food Not Lawns: How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden and Your Neighborhood into a Community Paperback – October 1, 2006

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Food Not Lawns: How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden and Your Neighborhood into a Community + The Edible Front Yard: The Mow-Less, Grow-More Plan for a Beautiful, Bountiful Garden
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing; 1ST edition (October 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 193339207X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933392073
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.9 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #407,532 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

For Flores, "practicing ecological living is a deeply subversive act," and while most gardening books do not include warnings that COINTELPRO "can and will...rape you," it is only because most gardening books do not encourage "guerilla gardening" after describing the basics of garden planning and pruning. More advanced topics range from integrating barnyard birds into a garden to getting more mileage out of the home water cycle to the benefits of a balanced insect population. The illustrations are amusing as well as helpful, and though the index is not extensive, the book, overall, is a much better read than the average gardening book, both in terms of range and entertainment value.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Bookwatch/Midwest Book Review-
For activist readers who believe activism is a political pursuit, FOOD NOT LAWNS: HOW TO TURN YOUR YARD INTO A GARDEN AND YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD INTO A COMMUNITY offers a different viewpoint, maintaining that growing food where you live is a key method of becoming a food activist in the community. Chapters advocate planting home and community gardens with an eye to drawing important connections between the politics of a home or community garden and the wider politics of usage, consumption, and sustainability. Another rarity: chapters promote small, easy changes in lifestyles to achieve a transition between personal choice and political activism at the community level, providing keys to change any reader can use.

Library Journal-
Certified permaculture designer Flores advocates living an ecologically friendly lifestyle by creating gardens. Following a foreword by Toby Hemenway (Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture), she discusses the identification of garden sites, the water cycle and water conservation, soils and composting, plants, how to save seed, project design, the fostering of community involvement, the inclusion of children in projects, the sharing of information, and activism. Many of Flores's ideas are for the extremely committed. She advocates dumpster digging, composting human feces, and living life without appliances like refrigerators. She also suggests growing food on land, not necessarily with the landowner's permission, and espouses gray-water conservation techniques that may be illegal in some communities. While growing your own food is a worthy goal, Flores doesn't always seem to recognize the hard work involved. She also doesn't expand on all of her ideas, but she does offer an extensive list of resources for further research. Flores has an engaging style and is clearly passionate about her subject, and her debut book provides an alternative viewpoint, but it will probably not interest mainstream audiences. Purchase as required.

(Sue O'Brien)

"More than just another gardening book, Food Not Lawns provides a road map for ecological and social literacy in our own backyards and neighborhoods. A quiet revolution is taking place across the country centered on small plots in urban and suburban areas where food is being produced, jobs grown, and real community developed. This timely book serves as an important guide, providing a source of both information and inspiration for one of the most hopeful and exciting movements of our time."--Michael Ableman, author of Fields Of Plenty

"Food Not Lawns is radical (rooted), subversive (underground), and seeded throughout with treasures that will sprout into savory, beautiful flowers. Don't just buy this book: Read it. Don't just read this book: Do it. Grow a garden. And let the weeds grow; they're good medicine."--Susun Weed, Wise Woman Herbal Series

"Food Not Lawns is a wonderful book expanding on the idea that we can do more than just protest but that we have the power to create the world we want. Food Not Lawns is a practical guide to feeding ourselves and making positive change. In a time of so much hopelessness this book reminds us that there really is so much we can do. I encourage everyone seeking peace and well being to dig into this rich loam of information. It will inspire you to grow food not lawns."--Keith McHenry, Co-founder of the Food Not Bombs movement

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Customer Reviews

It is a book that reads like someone talking at you vs. talking with you.
J. Hall
Thank you H.C. Flores for this excellent book and for all the inspiring things you do to build a more rational, socially just, and ecological society!
That said, this is an excellent book, full of WONDERFUL information and great (seriously great) tools to plan your future paradise garden.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

98 of 101 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 16, 2008
Format: Paperback
There's a tendency among activists these days to see their focus as the solution to all the world's problems. For one author, feminism envelopes all issues; for another communism (or capitalism) does. For others, it's Christianity.
As an avid, beginning gardener, I understand the appeal, but I feel like the connection between world peace and gardening wasn't adequately argued in the book. Having scrounged myself a piece of a neighbor's yard, I expected that this would be a good book to get me started on a practical bent. However, I found that the idealism often prevented extensive practical advice which is necessary for the beginner. Perhaps advanced gardeners can "make space for all plant species" and can't recommend one species above another, but there was limited - almost non-existent - acknowledgment that some species are easier to grow than others, and some are more useful in terms of food production, especially if space is extremely limited. For a first "food" garden, would I be better off growing potatoes? Tomatoes? Spinach?
I found the transition from garden-related activism to community activism quite rocky. I wish the sections on seed-saving and connecting with neighbors were expanded. On a personal level, I found many of the asides (which I will paraphrase as "well, *of course* all right-minded people agree that ____________") were off-putting, as hard-core radical leftists are not the only ones who are interested in producing clean, local food and making communities. I was also troubled by the exhortations to get rid of appliances, go vegetarian, and dumpster scavenge to save the environment, while at the same time suggesting extensive driving (to farms, to dumpsters, around town, between bakeries).
All that aside, Food Not Lawns is an interesting read.
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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Mark R. Anderson on January 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
I picked up this book to learn practical application of permacultural principles applied to urban yard scales--and there is a wealth of such information here. However, I do feel like Flores preaches just a little too much about the environmental destruction and political problems currently plaguing our country. In my view, anyone picking up a book called Food Not Lawns probably is already well-versed in such issues, and Flores is essentially preaching to the converted. That said, this book DOES have tons of practical information, and I would recommend it as an excellent counterbalance and companion book to Toby Hemenway's Gaia's Garden.
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59 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Kerry Trueman on October 11, 2006
Format: Paperback
Food Not Lawns is a terrific and timely new paperback from activist and urban gardener H.C. Flores.

Flores is a proponent of permaculture, a sustainable way of landscaping inspired by natural eco-systems. Her book presents a nine-step plan to transform the typical wasteland of turf into a productive, environmentally friendly "paradise garden" bursting with edible bounty. "The average American lawn," according to Flores, "could produce several hundred pounds of food a year."

Food Not Lawns began as an offshoot of the grassroots group Food Not Bombs, a non-profit with chapters all over the country that provides free vegetarian meals to the hungry using donated ingredients that would otherwise end up in a dumpster.

Flores' experience cooking and serving meals with Food Not Bombs gave her a new ambition; instead of simply providing food to others, she wanted to teach people how to provide for themselves. She describes Food Not Lawns as a "grassroots gardening project geared toward using waste resources to grow organic gardens and encouraging others to share their space, surplus, and ideas toward the betterment of the whole community."

The more Flores learned about food, agriculture, and land use, she says, the more she came to see the typical suburban lawn as a symbol of "gross waste and mindless affluence."

Flores reveals that there's nothing green about our love of lawns, which gobble up more resources and create more pollution than industrial farming. Her book explains how the weaknesses of our industrial food chain, and the unsustainable terrain of turf that surrounds suburbia have inspired a grassroots movement to grow not grass, but food.

Food Not Lawns is the perfect introduction to the permaculture revolution.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By B. Housewert on November 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
When I had originally bought this book I thought it was going to give me step by step instructions for turning my lawn into a food producing landscape. However when I read the book cover to cover in less than 3 weeks (which is rare with me, I usually never read them that fast) I realized what Heather was focusing on - Community and education. She has written a book to inspire us to grow on our front lawns and talk to our neighbors about it. Get the community involved no matter who they are. After I read it and then promptly lent it to a friend with similar interests I popped in the DVD "End of Suburbia" - I listened to James Kunstler talk about how were doomed and he even mentions that growing food on our lawns may start to become mainstream. This book will guide those of us who are willing to be pioneers in the upcoming energy transition and help us help eachother grow food consciously with the small or large spaces that we now mow. What a breath of fresh air and a really inspiring, well thought out guide. Its a must read. I purchased this book with Toby Hemenways Gaias Garden and they are a perfect match, Toby goes into a more in depth permaculture perspective.

A big Mahalo to Heather!
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