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Food Not Lawns: How to Turn Your Yard Into a Garden and Your Neighborhood Into a Community
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Food Not Lawns: How to Turn Your Yard Into a Garden and Your Neighborhood Into a Community

3.78  ·  Rating Details ·  933 Ratings  ·  103 Reviews
Gardening can be a political act. Creativity, fulfillment, connection, revolution--it all begins when we get our hands in the dirt.

Food Not Lawns combines practical wisdom on ecological design and community-building with a fresh, green perspective on an age-old subject. Activist and urban gardener Heather Flores shares her nine-step permaculture design to help farmsteaders
Paperback, 334 pages
Published October 15th 2006 by Chelsea Green Publishing (first published October 1st 2006)
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(showing 1-30)
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Jan 06, 2009 Erica rated it did not like it
To my horror, I found that science is not only under attack by the conservative right, but by the liberal hippie left. ::shudder::

This book had the potential to be useful and informative but when the author states, "...urine is totally sterile. In the garden fresh urine can be diluted 1:10 with water and poured on the soil or compost pile" she is just plain wrong.

Sure, urine is totally sterile if you remove it from yourself using a catheter. As soon as urine passes through the urethral area it
Jul 12, 2008 Jeffrey rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: radical gardeners and anarchists with a pitchfork
--wrote this for

I finished reading Food Not Lawns on my roof, just after I checked my new vermi-compost bin. The roof compost represents my attempted adaptation to life in the modern world whereby I try and lead a more sustainable lifestyle within my means and ability in our modern world. I was hoping to read Flores’ book and gain tips on how to build and maintain an edible yard in my future home, and possibly how to manage to grow edibles in the most unlikely of places li
Aug 04, 2007 Inder rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Gardeners, Future Farmers, Katie
I just pulled this out recently for inspiration, and I gotta say, it's really inspiring! Sure, okay, it's a bit hippy-dippy, but doesn't our world need a few more guerilla gardeners? This book inspires me to make good use of my land, to be more adventurous with my gardening, and to see gardens as potential community builders. Let me tell you, my neighborhood needs more of that! I'm seriously considering sneaking a few veggies into the abandoned lot across the street. What can I lose?

But be awar
Mar 27, 2008 Dioscita rated it it was ok
This book, for me, was ... enh.

I skimmed a lot of this book because much of it was familiar, a repeat of what I've read in the rather copious SOLE (sustainable, organic, local, ethical) reading I've done in my day. There's a bit of hippy-dippy, self-righteous, holier-than-thou stuff from Flores that got a little old after a while; I was particularly irritated at her carbon footprint section because I thought, "Well, cool for you, Ms. Flores. And if *everybody* did the same things you do (no refr
Aug 29, 2007 Sarah rated it it was amazing
If I ever get out of cover crop phase of my backyard garden plans, God Help any of you who don't like vegetables.
May 07, 2008 Melissa rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: organic foodies, activists
Shelves: political, gardening
I really enjoyed this book. Beginning with a brief overview of the benefits of choosing local, organic food, the first half focuses more on practical considerations, such as finding a suitable location for a garden; tapping into a community's waste stream, as opposed to buying new tools and materials; and restructuring the home water cycle in order to maximize efficiency.

Flores also introduces basic permaculture, biodynamic farming and polyculture principles, outlining various garden layouts th
Aug 10, 2007 Meredith rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: gardeners, social activists, local food enthusiasts, permaculturists
Shelves: home-and-garden
while this isn't the most in-depth or scholarly approach to permaculture, it is a radical treatise on getting out of the industrial food and water system, getting back in touch with the earth, setting up an ecologically sound garden and home water system, and finding ways to pass this wisdom on to your community. there are a lot of great ideas (and a fabulous resource section at the end of the book) in this basic introduction to permaculture. while the book is primarily geared toward urban envir ...more
Jul 20, 2009 Dianna rated it it was ok
This book has some good ideas and how-tos for transforming your yard into a garden.

However, 75% of the book is activist propaganda. While I think that a lot of what she has to say is fine (yes, I do think grass is a waste of space), she is so unreasonable about it all. While I do intend to attempt to grow more food on my own land, you won't catch me practicing "guerrilla gardening" or planting and watering my friend in my garden or starting my own local chapter of Food Not Bombs. Nor am I going
Nov 25, 2007 Sarah rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Newbies to granola life
Now I am pretty crunchy/granola according to my friends. I compost, garden, eat little meat, raise chickens for eggs, cook from scratch, recycle, conseve energy, drive carefully, care about where my food is coming from... blah, blah, blah.

This book is all about those things and more and how to do them, but it's all phrased in a preachy holier than thou, hippie propaganda manner. Some funny lines, but overall it was too touchy feely, group-think for my tastes.

Jul 15, 2010 Amanda rated it it was ok
I can get into hippy-dippy crap, but this chick is WACKED! I own the book, much to my dismay, and there are about four useful suggestions, a lot of extreme lifestyle suggestions, and, I shit you not, magic suggestions.

It reads like the rantings of a manic psych patient, and yes, I can state that from experience.
Oct 15, 2008 Charlie rated it it was amazing
Here's a book review I wrote for

Food Not Lawns
How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden and Your Neighborhood into a Community
By H.C. Flores

Reviewed by Charlie Malone
Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Food Not Lawns

H.C. Flores writes, “the Natural world is in deep decline due to the grossly unsustainable habits of humankind. This is no secret.” If you’ve a propensity for subversion, if you’ve time and passion to organize your community, Food Not Lawns offers factual, pragmatic, and ideo
Dec 17, 2009 Alec rated it really liked it
I liked this book a lot. Other readers' criticisms here are valid - the author's politics are on the page, lots of ideas and projects are mentioned without an exhaustive how-to, and there's quite a bit in here that is not just about turning your own lawn into a garden. That's all okay with me. I would recommend looking for this book at the library (mine has at least 6 copies) or getting it used, starting with a topic that interests you, and skipping around as you like. If you get bored or think ...more
Sep 10, 2008 K rated it really liked it
The title is a bit misleading - the book focuses far more on the value of gardening and other aspects of green living than on instructions on how to do so. I also find it difficult to envision doing many of the projects she suggests with the scant directions she provides. However, it did give me a lot of ideas I want to try and implement, albeit I want to search for more thorough information elsewhere. The resources appendix she gives, though, should easily help remedy the brevity of instruction ...more
Jul 21, 2008 Sarah rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those interested in community, gardening, conserving our planet's resources
Recommended to Sarah by: Kellee
This book was a really great start and introduction. It's not for someone looking for specifics on what to plant, where, what to plant it next to, and so forth.
However, it's a great resource for someone looking for more information on sustainability in general, and specifically how it relates to creating your own garden - wherever you live. There are even some great tidbits for city dwellers.
Part of the book focuses on creating a "paradise garden," information on how to conserve water and r
May 20, 2008 Beegobug rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent read for those who are craving a sense of community and also want to learn about gardening, saving seeds through seed swaps, etc. Lest you think this is a militant diatribe discussing the evils of the way we live, be assured it is not. Heather Flores is as accessible on the page as she is in person, and she doesn't try to convince everyone to get rid of their lawn and replace it with food. Rather, she gives the reader a way to start building community through gardening and e ...more
Dec 21, 2008 Jeannette rated it liked it
This is definitely a hippy-dippy book, but there's great info on water conservation and using grey water to water your garden. And of course, I love the ideas on turning your neighbourhood into a community through setting up a community tool lending library or doing things like City Repair does in Portland. The author is a bit out there (she lives without a fridge) and uses the phrase "earthlings", but that's okay. This isn't a gardening book per se, but it's got some good information. Skim thro ...more
R. C.
Feb 08, 2009 R. C. rated it it was amazing
This is not about gardening. Anyone who wants to create a better neighborhood needs this, even if they would be content to get their food at the farmers market. I mean, of course, it contains a lot of useful information about growing your own food off the farm, but it's about a better way of city living. And when I say a lot, I mean, really, tons of useful information. It's a book that will be owned, highlighted, dog-eared and dragged back and forth from the office to the yard.
Jun 21, 2008 Kami rated it liked it
Shelves: eco
This book gave me a couple of new ideas but most of the book was "This topic is too deep to get into here so check the reference section for more info"

Plus it was really heavy on pushing her social agenda. I much prefer "Gaia's Garden" by Toby Hemenway, for actual information about Permaculture.
Feb 12, 2008 Michelle rated it did not like it
Just a bunch of neo-hippie woo with not a lot of substance. Based on the title, I was expecting (and hoping for) practical advice on creating a more sustainable space in my yard. Instead, I got the author's stream of conciousness on everything from seed bombing to dumpster diving. This book is referred to (positively!!) often by other sources, and I'm not quite sure why.
Feb 01, 2008 Claire rated it really liked it
I'm only 20 pages in, but I'm feeling so inspired by this book. The anarchist in me is bubbling with joy at all the ways communities can come together and create meaningful connections and relationships, all while damning the man (peacefully!)

Sep 17, 2010 Jessica rated it it was ok
Eh, I was a little indifferent about this book. I was really excited to read it, but in the end I felt it was boring and mostly annoying. I expected a little bit more from it, and to be honest I stopped reading about 3/4 of the way through, something I don't often do.
May 20, 2008 Anna rated it it was ok
Shelves: abandoned
I wanted to like this book a lot, but yeah, the tone is off-putting and very much speaking from within a particular movement that to me has always reeked of privilege. We'll see as I get further in.
Aug 05, 2013 Greg rated it it was ok
I'm in agreement with other reviews on here about how only part of the book is useful, but wanted to write my own review because I checked out two books on this topic and both were repulsive for the same reason.

Why oh why must the person interested in exploring ways of producing food and reducing ecological impact be subjected to the anti-corporate radical pseudo-scientific leanings of the current organic farming community? On the one hand, books like Food Not Lawns are ostensibly about encourag
Nov 16, 2014 John rated it really liked it
What is community gardening? It would have to be not only that the garden is undertaken by and for people of a community, but also would also include the community engagement and governance necessary to start and maintain community gardening projects. This book takes on the question of community engagement as a part of gardening in a vigorous and unflinching way.

This book takes a wide-ranging look at starting to take an aggressive move to home polyculture gardening, personal change, and social c
Erika RS
May 29, 2012 Erika RS rated it it was ok
The premise of this book was interesting: gardening with a goal of improving the world often leads to a desire to improve the world more widely, so let's have a book about both gardening and community organization.

Sadly, the book tried to do too much and so ended up doing nothing particularly well. The first half of the book is about gardening. The vast majority of things in that section are covered in more detail (but not much more space) in books like Gaia's Garden. The second half of the book
Feb 27, 2009 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 23, 2012 Temoca rated it it was ok
Sadly, this was not exactly what I was expecting so I felt let down by the time I was able to trudge through. I wanted and needed more tips on the how tos instead of the a little too radical why fors. Sorry, I still like to shave my armpits. I have been planning to start a community garden at the middle school I teach at and want to help my students take their produce to the local farmer's market. Even thought Flores talks about planting a garden in any space we can, I'm not going to tell my stu ...more
Steve Bivans
Jun 22, 2014 Steve Bivans rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: be-a-hobbit
Are you tired of mowing your lawn, pulling dandelions, spraying it with toxic chemicals, feeding it with artificial fertilizers that kill our rivers and oceans, and paying the water bill to keep it from turning brown every summer? If not, don't read this book. If so, then you really SHOULD read it, because Ms. Flores will tell you why you should get rid of all that worthless grass, and plant food instead.

This is a revolutionary book about taking control of our food supply, and minimizing our ne
Nov 23, 2007 Anastasia rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: environmentalists
I learned so much from this book. Heather Flores has blown my mind with all her good ideas and new ways of looking at things. This book is about permaculture, but Flores calls her version "paradise gardening" and one big part of it is all about having a great food garden with minimal work. I guess that's what permaculture is all about, too: working with the natural order of things, taking advantage of existing resources, choosing designs and resources that are mutually beneficial. I won't be abl ...more
Sep 06, 2012 Stacy rated it really liked it
This book is a good reference book to consult if you are interested in turning wasted, often toxic land (grass) into productive, organic gardens that feed you and your neighborhood. The author shares lots of ideas for finding ways to do this, as well as build a sense of community and be more environmentally-friendly.

A lot of her ideas are really interesting. Some sound... let's just say best suited to Eugene, OR where she's from. (Like getting rid of your refrigerator, quitting your job, biking
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Heather Jo Flores is an interdisciplinary artist focused on the connection between physicality and creativity, with emphasis on healing self and Earth through creative expression and community interaction. She writes, paints, dances, sings, plays guitar and teaches yoga, permaculture and creative writing. She is the author of Food Not Lawns; How to Turn Your Yard into a Garden and Your Neighborhoo ...more
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