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press-menu / The Big Idea - Garden Greens: Lawns You Can Eat / by Sarah Karnasiewicz / October 21st, 2005

Editor's note: For our second installment of this year's Big Idea series, we put together a list of some of the most exciting ideas that help the environment. We also encourage you to submit your own idea and argue for why it deserves recognition. At the end of the series, we'll publish the best selections and spotlight the winner.

Garden greens: Lawns you can eat
Fritz Haeg is unleashing a one-man attack on the American lawn, which the Los Angeles-based artist dubs a "carpet of conformity." Over the next three years, under the aegis of Edible Estates, which has already begun in Salina, Kansas, Haeg will be ripping up the front lawns of nine single-family homes in regions across the country and replacing them with food-producing vegetable gardens. The families whose lawns he's transforming have agreed to maintain the gardens, so the work is a permanent living installation. What's wrong with the lawn? Not only does it take a tremendous amount of water to keep it green, but the two-stroke engine used by lawnmowers produces some of the worst carbon-dioxide emissions for a motor of its size, contributing to global warming and other air pollution. Then there are all the pesticides and herbicides used to keep front lawns green. "We're stuck with this idea that plants that produce food are ugly, and lawns that you have to pour chemicals on and mow are beautiful," says Haeg, who hopes his lawns can reverse that thinking.