American households use more than 7 billion gallons of water per day just to tend to their lawns. Some experts estimate that up to 50 percent of that water is wasted due to evaporation, wind, or runoff. But what if we could use those lawn spaces for something more meaningful, such as growing local food?
Enter Crop Swap LA, a Los Angeles-based startup that’s rethinking the traditional front lawn by transforming it into gardens to feed entire neighborhoods with produce like kale, rainbow chard, and tomatoes.
“My company partners with homeowners who have a front yard and want to do something positive,” says Jamiah Hargins, founder of Crop Swap LA. By establishing what Crop Swap calls microfarms, neighborhoods pay for monthly subscriptions to the ultra-local food, and homeowners get both a share of the produce as well as a cut of the profit. “We maintain it, but they get part of the income every month,” Hargins says.
Crop Swap LA’s first microfarm took shape in View Park, a neighborhood considered a food desert because residents lack easy access to large supermarkets in the vicinity. Through Crop Swap LA, though, residents can subscribe to a three-pound mix of fresh, organic greens and vegetables for $36 a month.
On top of being an attractive source of local food, these microfarms also use optimal techniques for growing the produce, recycling water through the soil, and using only a tiny fraction of the water needed to maintain a traditional lawn. “We’re only using 8 percent of the water that was previously used to grow grass there, but now to grow food.” says Hargins.
The installation of Crop Swap LA’s first microfarm was funded by a grant from LA2050, a Goldhirsh Foundation program. Now the company aims to swap grass for food in hundreds of other neighborhoods, providing residents with a fresh source of healthy produce.
Image source: Crop Swap LA