Friday 28 April 2017 18.39 BST
The future of the immaculate British lawn is under threat, claims a new report from the Royal Horticultural Society: rising temperatures will deliver a triple-threat of dryness, weeds and pests that gardeners will have to navigate if they want to maintain their manicured emerald rectangles. Some reports have even suggested we do away with lawns altogether and just substitute them with fake green turf (gasp!) to avoid the inevitable hassle.
But will it be worth it? Let’s be honest, what do lawns really do, anyway—other than satisfy that odd part of the human ego that thrives off the sight of evenly-clipped grass? In fact, how about we really shake things up and just turn our lawns into vegetable patches, instead?
That’s the idea behind Fleet Farming, a group of amateur farmers in Florida who are slowly transforming people’s lawns into food gardens in the city of Orlando. “Land is scarce and it’s expensive, but in America we have more than 40 million acres of lawn,” says co-founder Chris Castro, who is also Orlando city’s sustainability director. “So that’s an enormous amount of food that potentially could be grown.”
Their approach is simple. Homeowners contact Fleet Farming (or vice versa) and offer up their lawns for conversion. They have to show that the land has been pesticide-free for two years before they can turn it over. A suggested donation of $500 covers the start-up costs—though it’s not obligatory, and homeowners can pay in instalments if they wish. Then the organisation orchestrates a ‘Swarm Ride’, in which volunteers cycle en masse to the plot, where they till the soil, plant seeds, and care for the farm.