*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the East Coast Current.
Florida Passes Bill Regarding Home Vegetable Gardens
About six weeks have passed since Florida legislators passed a bill prohibiting municipalities from outlawing home vegetable gardens. I know, you’re scratching your head. It seems like with all the devastating pollution, crumbling infrastructure, upended school districts, water shortages and environmental disasters, our elected officials would have bigger fish to fry than making it illegal to grow tomatoes in your own front yard. But fear not, municipalities are now prohibited from passing these types of bills, so you and your tomatoes are safe… for now.
Green Grass and its Effects on the Environment
But this whole silly mess brings me to a bigger picture argument. We’re hemming and hawing about vegetable gardens, but what about turf? That emerald green Floratam lawn that is not only flaunted by most Florida homeowners, but is indeed required by some homeowner’s associations. In Volusia County there is a summertime fertilizer ban, which helps prevent hazardous runoff of the disgusting and horrible chemicals we put on our lawns from seeping into our local waterways.
Alternatives to Green Lawns and Yards in Florida
Some of us, myself included, don’t maintain lawns. I don’t water, fertilize or spray any chemicals. I keep most things native, so they can handle the tough Florida heat without looking bedraggled. But people like that are the exception, not the rule. Most Floridians proudly manicure their lawns with thousands of gallons of water and a litany of hazardous chemical poisons that help our grassy knolls look their best.
But, why do we do it? Why do we waste resources on a cultural requirement that doesn’t benefit us, and indeed causes real harm?
Turf is the world’s largest monoculture crop. In Florida alone over 4 million acres are maintained as turf. That’s the size of New Jersey. The land now occupied by turf once fostered productive habitats, but as turf, these lands not only offer no benefit to wildlife or humans, but they are often loaded with poisons and pollution that leach into our groundwater, our bodies, the bodies of our pets and wild animals, and into vital ecosystems which sometimes never recover.
To me, it is a crisis of epic proportion. Turf is one of our most monumental sources of waste, and we get practically nothing in return for pampering it. But you don’t hear about politicians authoring bills to outlaw turf, or to even curtail its use, despite a mountain of scientific evidence that our grassy yards are among the most severe causes of environmental devastation in the state of Florida.
With that said, enjoy your yard-grown veggies. I hope you enjoy them so much that you replace all your grass with something useful or edible, so we can leave this misguided social turf culture in the past.