Fritz Haeg/Edible Estates: The Popular Front

February 8, 2015

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Edible Estates 2007, Fritz Haeg, Brookwood House Estate and Tate Modern

Fritz Haeg, Information and Bio

Today’s towns and cities are engineered for isolation, and growing food in your front yard becomes a way to subvert this tendency. The front lawn, a highly visible slice of private property, has the capacity to also be public…. An Edible Estate can serve to stitch communities back together, taking a space that was previously isolating and turn it into a welcoming forum that re-engages people with one another…. Food grown in our front yards will connect us to the seasons, the organic cycles of the earth, and our neighbors. The banal lifeless space of uniform grass in front of the house will be replaced with the chaotic abundance of biodiversity… Edible Estates takes on our relationship with our neighbors, the source of our food, and our connection to the natural environment….We grow a lawn the same way anywhere in the world, but when we grow our own food we have to start paying attention to where we are… In becoming gardeners we will reconsider our connection to the land, what we take from it and what we put in our bodies (Fritz Haeg, Edible Estates).

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There comes a time when we wish to liberate all our food-growing opportunities from the tyranny of lawn control…So we plant the front lawn. You are now a member of the Popular Front. You are an urban farmer and your house is another link in the chain. Every new farmer who plants their front yard creates an outpost in the campaign to feed the city of the future. You are making a statement that we are what we eat and we eat where we live (David Tracey, Urban Agriculture)

Garden and environmental activists David Tracey and Fritz Haeg both campaign for the cultivation of front lawns as edible gardens, replacing unproductive lawns with vegetables, herbs, soft fruit, and fruit trees. The curbside appeal of the edible estate garden is its location as both a domestic and community food source. The visibility of the garden replaces the uniformity of square lawns, inviting neighbours and pedestrians to engage with private gardens as interactive community landscapes that can develop social networks of local gardening enthusiasts. The potential of the front lawn to be transformed into edible growing, can make the idea of urban agriculture a reality.

For Haeg this is an artistic project, the installation of edible plants as materials to create truly cultured horticulture, that has at its core idiosyncratic aesthetics reflecting the character of domestic plots of land. Daring to break the rules of conformity, deciding to ‘go wild’, to garden beyond rows, and to choose nature as your guide, is a courageous decision. Fundamentally you are asserting your independence. You have become a free spirit generating a gesture of hospitality as you share your creativity, knowledge, plot and edible crops with others.

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Photos: Edible Estates, Fritz Haeg

North American Facts on the Quest for the Perfect Lawn

1. North Americans dump ten times more pesticides per acre on lawns than farmers on croplands.

2. It costs more money per acre to maintain a lawn than to grow corn or rice.

3. Some 40 billion dollars was spent on lawns in North America in 2005 – more than the continent gave in foreign aid.

4. Phosphorus runoff from excess lawn fertiliser contributes to algae blooms in rivers, lakes and the ocean that kill fish.

5. Thirty percent of the water used on the East Coast of the US goes to water lawns.

6. An estimated seven million birds are killed in the US each year by lawn pesticides.

7. An estimated 75 000 Americans are injured every year from lawnmowers, about the same as for guns.

8. The average homeowner spends 150 hours a year maintaining his lawn.

(Ted Steinberg’s book Specifically American Green: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Lawn quoted in Urban Agriculture by David Tracey) 

References

Urban Agriculture: Ideas and Designs for the New Food Revolution by David Tracey

David Tracey  www.davidtracey.ca

Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn by Fritz Haeg

Fritz Haeg Website http://www.fritzhaeg.com

 

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