When you turn down my street you see an ordinary, urban, South Florida neighborhood. Our lots are a little bigger than average, ranging from 1/3 to ½ acre; but other than that we are unremarkable. A tree here and there, a lawn and some decorative landscaping are the norm. And then there’s me.
You can see the beautiful elderberry bush laden with berries and flowers as you near the end of the street. Get closer and you’ll see my signs letting you know that it’s a wildlife habitat, and that I have bees.
Get out of your car, and take a deep breath. The sweet scent of gardenia, sweet almond or whatever is in bloom (something is always in bloom) intoxicates your senses. King George, our resident rooster, will probably holler out a greeting, or a warning, to let you know that he’s in charge of the coop on the side of the house.
Depending on what time of day it is, you might hear the sweet songs of birds or the happy chirps and buzzing of insects. If it’s spring, the frogs will be calling out for love.
Vibrant colors fill the landscape and your eye gets drawn to the flicker of a butterfly as it flits across the yard or the soft rustle of leaves as the lizards scurry around doing lizard things.
If you’ve come today, in the front yard you’ll see wax jambu fruit hanging like delicate pink bells from the tree. Miracle fruit peeks out from the bush like red holiday decorations and the cotton candy tree is laden with white flowers that look just like flowers on the strawberry plant. The lemon grass is waving in the light breeze and the monstera deliciosa fruit is peeking out from underneath the broad leaves. Passion flower wrestles with itself all over the fence, and if you look closely you’ll see some of the green fruit hiding among it.
The guava in the backyard is just starting to ripen, and the distinctive smell tantalizes you as you walk by. Mango hangs heavy on the tree nearby and Imbe’s cheery orange fruits are ripening too fast to eat. The yellow flowers of the okra compete with the happy reds of the scarlet bean and the eggplants hang heavy towards the earth. Goji berry and raspberry are hanging out together under the bat box, keeping the bees company.
That’s just a small taste of life in my paradise. Over 20 fruit trees, medicinals, herbs, berries, perennial vegetables and seasonal vegetables fill my small yard. I can, and have, eaten exclusively from my yard. I make wines, jams, and medicine from the bounty. I share and trade my excess. My friends and neighbors bring their children and grandchildren to visit nature and taste directly from the land.
The secret is: it’s not nearly as hard as you think. No matter where you live, nature has a system of abundance. When you learn that system and tap into it, your boring lawn that you mow and weed can be replaced with a garden that delights you; mind, body and soul. Feed the system and the system will feed you.
Nature is meant to be a regenerative system. What you might not know is that as you help that regenerative system something inside of you will regenerate too. None of us know what happens next in this great big world. We do know at the very least, climate change is stressing our current food system. Shouldn’t we all know how to feed ourselves? If you think you don’t have the time/skill/desire to do it yourself there are edible landscapers that will do it for you. Lose your lawn and regain your wild side. You won’t regret it.
Look for like minded people on http://www.growsoc.com – if they aren’t there yet, join yourself and invite your friends to join with you. It’s free, and it gives you the tools you need to create local community centered around food and regenerative lifestyles.