Backyard Cherries

Backyard Cherries

Food Not Lawns by H.C. Flores seems to be one of those must-read books that every hip environmentalist seems to tout at some point. It’s been in print since the 70’s, so there’s gotta be something there to last all this time, right?

Flores is refreshingly upfront with her status as a fervent believer that we are destroying life on earth. She was an environmental pioneer and has done a lot for what this area calls the Green Movement (or Green Religion). Her book is written for others who are curious about what they can do to build community and become self-sustaining.

The book has persuasive environmental horror stories and a few mystical leanings that might be off-putting to some readers. Strangely enough, the way the book is structured makes the stories secondary to the actual items you can build or perform in order to lead a healthier, more sustainable life. There is a section about creating a grey water bog and pond system to water landscaping with plans that I thought were just brilliant.

But as I was reading, I started thinking about what it would really mean to implement some of these ideas at home. When fella and I bought our house, we planned on staying at least two years. With the housing market the way it is, we decided to stay for at least 5 years.

People don’t really buy houses to live in for 30 years anymore. In my area, many folks are resigned to a commute to work that can take over an hour, because there is no work close to home. People may have to move across the country for a job. The idea of staying in a home and paying off a 30-year mortgage is unthinkable right now. Because people move around, it’s also harder to build a real life community.

I know that I wouldn’t be able to sell my house if it was painted with milk paint, landscaped with gray water plumbing, and the lawn was removed. Living with these things requires a change in living, it requires specialty knowledge and maintenance. Would prospective buyers cringe at even my compost bins?

When I read about how neighbors should tear down their fences and plant a large garden on the shared space, I had to laugh. That would never happen in my neighborhood. It freaks them out when I offer them cherries from our tree. We need our territorial boundaries here.

We can each do our bit and take personal responsibility for our little carbon footprints. We can plant our gardens and compost our veggies. But as long as workers have to remain mobile (and things like gray water systems are anomalies), our self-sustaining, environmental actions have to be as mobile as we are.