The city of Rochester, like so many other American cities, is not a very good ecosystem. We have lots of green space in our parks and in our backyards. These spaces could be a source of food for beneficial bees and butterflies and a way to grow local food for people, but instead they are a form of non-native perennial rye grass that needs to be maintained constantly. We spend hours mowing it with a noisy, gas-guzzling lawnmower, break our backs weeding or spray chemicals that stifle pollinators and run into our streams and rivers.
The lawns we cultivate are part of a national obsession: over 35 million acres of lawn exist in America, more than all the corn and soybeans that we grow put together. The acres and acres of lawn in Rochester, if they were converted to growing food for pollinators and people, could feed the entire city. Instead, we drive to the local grocery store to buy vegetables grown an average of 1,200 miles away. The produce we purchase there may have taken weeks to arrive and may sit in the produce aisle for at least another week before it is disposed of in the incinerator or landfill. It may find its way to pig farms or to the food shelves, but ultimately, a large percentage of it won’t be eaten at all. Meanwhile, a health and nutrition crisis is looming, another symptom of our disconnected lives.
Food insecurity is a real problem for many thousands of people in Rochester, especially for people of color and new immigrants. Food-insecure people suffer from a myriad of deleterious psychological and physical effects, especially children. Our way of life is disjointed and fractured because our orientation to the land we live on has been sundered from our food system, and that food system has failed to feed people in a way that everyone flourishes. So how can we reconnect with the land in a way that improves everyone’s health?
We restore a natural ecosystem in Rochester that rejuvenates soil, reduces pollution, rehabilitates pollinators, and replaces the current food system with one focuses on the health and well-being of everyone, starting with those who are most food-insecure.
Revolutionary Earth restores an ecosystem one backyard at a time by transforming lawns into large-scale gardens and pollinator habitats. These gardens provide at least 18 weeks of fresh, hyperlocal, organic produce for food-insecure families in Rochester for free.