Real Food

Savor the flavors of everyday real food, fresh from the garden or stored on your pantry shelves.

Add to My MSN

Food Is Free Project

7/3/2014 12:28:00 PM

Tags: community gardenS, Missouri, Crystal Stevens

Food is Free

I recently interviewed John VanDeusen Edwards from the Food is Free Project. After reading a gardening book, which gave readers some inspiring wisdom stating essentially that, “As gardeners, we have an unspoken obligation to teach others how to grow their own food and to teach them what we know based on our experiences with success and failures within our own gardens.”

He was forever changed by reading this book and started looking into building raised beds. He found a design for a small, handmade aquifer inside of a raised bed. He loved the idea of a self-watering, drought-tolerant garden bed. He built one in his front yard from reclaimed pallets and old political signs. The political signs have become a metaphor for bringing the Democratic Party and the Republican Party together to form the “Garden Party.” He lined the raised bed with a tarp, recycled tumbled glass, which he sourced for free at the landfill, built the aquifer using scrap pieces of PVC pipe, added soil and planted his first "wicking bed garden." He built it in his front yard as a way to inspire others to grow their own food. He put a sign in front of the garden that said “Food is Free”. Within a couple of days, he got so much positive feedback from his neighbors that he decided to create a flyer which read that the first 10 people to respond to this flyer will receive a free raised garden bed in their front yard with one condition: you place a sign in front that says food is free so that neighbors can share the bounty and really form friendships through gardening.

In the four years he lived at his residence, he didn’t know any of his neighbors, a common trend facing neighborhoods today. The response he received from the flyer was so overwhelming that he needed to recruit volunteers to help build the raised beds. Over fifty individuals showed up for most of the work days. The Food is Free Project was born. It has grown into a non-profit organization. John and his crew of dedicated volunteers continue to install free gardens throughout neighborhoods as well as at Habitat for Humanity homes throughout the Austin, Texas, area.

Creating an Urban Farm

food is free 2

John and his girlfriend Stacey have transformed their backyard into a fully functioning urban farm. They host a slough of sustainable workshops, they teach children about gardening, and they are a compost drop-off site for their neighbors. Currently 19 out of 30 houses on their street, Joe Sayers Avenue in Austin, Texas, have “Food is Free Project” raised beds in their front yards.

John’s project is an excellent example of the power food has to unite us. We all rely on food for our survival, so why not create our own beautiful and self-sufficient foodshed in our own neighborhoods?

John has begun a food revolution in his town and is truly a visionary who is working toward a better future each day.

What a 'Food Is Free' Project Wicking Bed Garden Looks Like

The wicking bed garden, made from pallets, is typically 4 feet by 4 feet. It is essentially a handmade aquifer inside of a raised bed.

Materials (90 percent donated or sourced locally for free):

2 pallets (heat treated) -acquired for free outside of local businesses who would otherwise pay to have them picked up
Recycled Political signs -Local Campaign Offices can be contacted; They typically have a surplus that are more than willing 
Scrap wood (ask your neighbors or scour construction sites)
A tarp or plastic liner ($2)
Recycled crushed tumbled glass- acquired from local landfills or recycling centers (Resource recovery facilities often give tumbled glass for free)Use pea gravel or river rock as alternative, often acquired for free at construction sites
10-12” of Soil (acquired for free at most city parks)
Plants or seeds!

raised bed

Visit foodisfreeproject.org to learn more and for video tutorials on how to make your own Wicking Bed Garden

Post photographs of your own inspired “food is free” endeavors to The Food is Free Project Facebook page.

Help them reach one million likes.

Submit photos of your food is free garden at #foodisfree

Follow them on social media

Read the full story and interview in the next edition of Permaculture Magazine.



Related Content

What Did You Do With Your Garden Over the Winter?

Readers share tips and tricks for taking care of winter garden beds.

All Wet

Beware. I’m stepping up on the soapbox for a minute.

And Then There Were Two (Greenhouses)

Cam is trying to extend his growing season with DIY greenhouse structures.

Organic Pioneers Urge Consumers to Get Mad--and Get Organized--About GMOs

As organic industry leaders urge consumers to take action against GMOs--the biggest threat the indus...

Content Tools




Post a comment below.

 










Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.