By Alan Miles
Thinking about planting a front yard vegetable garden, but afraid of what the neighbors will think? Fear not! We’ve got proof that your garden can be a vital part of your community — and we’ve even planted 6 good reasons you can use to make your case.
The front yard vegetable garden stories you’re most likely to hear about are the ones where someone has to fight City Hall to grow one. But two highly publicized cases of local officials trying to eliminate front yard gardens — in Orlando, Florida, and West Des Moines in Frontier’s home state of Iowa — both ended in victory for the gardeners when public support for them grew. So you can feel confident that you can gain support for your front-yard garden because it’s been done before. Here are a few more points to consider:
Front yard vegetable gardens are good for communities. They demonstrate a freedom-loving spirit and beautify neighborhoods. They showcase traditional American values of independence, frugality and respect for the past right out where everybody can see them. And growing food along with plants that support the ecosystem and attract beneficial and pollinating bees (as front yard gardeners often do) is the most natural and sustainable form of agriculture.
Here are the six reasons to grow your own front yard vegetable garden:
1. Good food. The best reason to plant a garden, no matter where it’s located, is that you want to grow your own healthy, tasty, organic food. If you think the front yard is the place you can best do that — or would most enjoy doing it — go for it.
2. Better growing conditions. Many times a front yard garden is the obvious choice because the front is the best environment to grow a garden. Your backyard may be shaded by homes and trees or have poor soil quality, for example, while a sunny, fertile front yard is wasted on grass.
3. Lawn elimination. Some people don’t like lawns much. They see them as water-hogging, energy-draining petrochemical dumps. Even if you have a friendlier view of them, you might prefer an organic, productive garden that gives you a delicious return on your labor to maintaining that boring green carpet out front.
4. Personal satisfaction. Putting a garden in your front yard makes a statement. And when you do it well, it’s something you can be proud of. Whether you’re growing vegetables to have the best quality organic produce to cook with, planting heirloom varieties in reaction to our dwindling options as food industry giants consolidate, or just love the beauty of the plants, you’re sharing something you believe in and enjoy when you put it out where people will notice it.
5. Neighborhood relations. Most neighbors respect a well-kept garden and your right to put one in your front yard. You might find it a conversation starter when you’re outside working in your garden and neighbors walk by. Kids are often curious and you may have front yard discussions that encourage some healthier attitudes about food in the next generation. And, if you’re like most gardeners, you’ll have some extra harvest to hand out to further build relationships.
6. Unique, beautiful landscaping. Everyone is trying to do something special to set their lawn apart. A front yard vegetable garden breaks with the short green convention to offer the visual diversity of exciting colors and variations of heights and textures. The leaves, flowers and fruits of vegetables can be every bit as attractive as lawn plantings designated as “ornamental.” Anyone who’s ever been in the produce section of a good natural food store knows vegetables can be exquisitely beautiful.
What do you think of front-yard vegetable gardens?
About the Author: Alan explores ideas and issues related to a sustainable lifestyle — from cooking and culture to social and environmental responsibility. He enjoys Shakespeare, but not as much as college basketball. Alan is a family man, liking nothing better than spending time with his wife of 33 years, his four kids and four grandkids.