You’ve probably seen some of the slogans: Stop Mowing – Start Growing; Food Not Lawns; Eat Your Yard But why do these folks give a hoot whether we mow or don’t mow? Were they forced to mow a mile uphill in the snow as kids, or what? From what I can tell, it’s a vision, and a broad one at that: a vision of the future that comes from nostalgia for the past I know I remember eating from the huge fruit trees in my grandma’s back yard and the pecan trees in my husband’s grandma’s yard Free food. And at the price of fruit and pecans, those grannies were rich.
Last year I planted several cherry trees, three pawpaws, blueberries, asparagus, a mulberry and a few hazelnuts, and I figure my future grandchildren will love me for it. And I also figure I’ll feel rich just like our grandmas did . . . like maybe your grandparents did.
When I do the two-column thing, pros and cons, on mowing vs. food, it does look sort of obvious — mow-money-pollution vs. investment-upkeep-food. Some perennial crops are easier to grow than others in our area, and a good nursery person can help steer you in that direction. And while the trees and bushes are filling in, you can grow some awesome vegetables in between.
If you do a little research on the permaculture (permanent agriculture — think perennials) scene in Asheville, you’ll find many classes and tours, which is how I saw how much food some folks are getting out of their tiny little yards. Why, there are folks in California (okay, granted, it’s California) who grow 6,000 lbs of food on 1/10th of an acre! They have NO lawn (urbanhomestead.org). At The Lord’s Acre, Fairviewan Scott Baxla harvested over 120 lbs of potatoes from three beds of maybe 4’ X 3’ that he’s experimenting with.
Persimmons, grapes, figs, blueberries, rhubarb, asparagus, raspberries, and all manner of tree fruits and nuts can be in our food-growing future as individuals, families, neighborhoods and communities. And in Fairview, once we’ve had our fill and shared all we can with our neighbors, our excess can go to the Share-the-Harvest Market, the Fairview Welcome Table or Food For Fairview.
Fall is a great time to transplant perennial food plants, so do your own pros and cons list and see what wins out. In the box below are listed just some of the local sources for edible perennials in our area.