Movie: Gimme Green (Green Unplugged)


This is a repost from a blog entry I made for Provisions Library on July 18, 2011. Please note, the film is the perspective of the producer. The facts presented in the film should be questioned. Comments from this post wanted validity of some of the statistics presented in the film. If you have a trusted source that provides information on the lawn industry please leave a comment, to either support and/or counter the information presented in the film. Here’s what I wrote:

Ever wonder why Americans are obsessed with tending to their lawns? Gimme Green, a documentary featured in the Green Unplugged film festival, attempts to explain. This 30 minute film, produced by Isaac Brown, focuses on America’s obsession with having a perfect lawn and its collateral impact.
Brown presents the lawn industry’s stakeholder perspective of the importance of a great lawn through interviews with homeowners, community organizers, and employees of the lawn care industry. The interviews are interlaced with facts about the negative impact of the lawn industry on the U.S. ecosystem and its citizen. To understand the enormity of the lawn industry here are some facts I found intriguing from this film:
  • Every day more then 5,000 acres of land are converted to lawns in the U.S.
  • Americans spends more than 40 billion dollars each year on their yards
  • Every day more then 5,000 acres of land are converted to lawns in the U.S.
  • Americans spends more than 40 billion dollars each year on their yards
  • Lawns are the largest irrigated crops in the U.S. and covers 41 million acres
  • Americans apply more than 30,000 tons of pesticides to their yards every year
  • 17 of the 30 usual lawn pesticides are detected in groundwater

Are these facts disturbing? This is just the tip of the iceberg. Lawns replace native plant species that impacts the native insects and social composition. One alternative to lawns is planting a companion garden that pairs flowering plants, herbs, and, vegetables together. This will eliminate the need to mow your lawn and spray chemical pesticides. Your monthly grocery expenses will be reduced because you will grow some of your own food. Finally, you are creating a microcosm of a complex system fashioned similar to a healthy natural ecosystem. For example, tomatoes, basils, and French marigold are great companions. Basil helps tomato plants grow and adds flavor to the fruit while repelling pests such as thrips, flies, and mosquitoes.

Thrip; Source: Legambiente Arcipelago Toscano

Meanwhile marigolds are excellent at repelling nematodes and whiteflies. Gold Harvest Organics provides a comprehensive introduction to companion planting.

Soybean cyst nematode; Source: Agriculture Research Service USDA

Another alternative to lawns is a native plant garden that includes species adept at growing optimally in your region. A native plant garden reduces the amount of water needed to maintain it. These gardens will also attract insects and microbes that will self regulate the soil composition and the root system under ground with out strong petroleum based chemical pesticides.

Click here to view Gimme Green and other films from the Green Unplugged film festival.

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About John Costa

I am a farmer in training with a background in finance, organizational sustainability, and project management. My expertise is making the business case for local food enterprises.
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