• Austin American Statesman features FiF!

    Posted on June 5, 2012 by in Food is Free Blog

    The Austin American Statesman reached out to us after hearing John Aielli made an announcement on his radio program about the way Food is Free is reusing political campaign signs to build front yard community gardens. We’ve had lots of great feedback from the Austin community after the piece ran in the paper today. It’s exciting to see how such a simple, yet fundamental idea resonates with folks from all different backgrounds and perspectives. Enjoy the article!


    Old campaign signs find second life as garden building blocks

    By Farzad Mashhood


    Mike Martinez is covered in dirt. Lee Leffingwell is packed in tight between the homemade compost and Paul Workman. Oh, and that spot of the garden needs another political campaign sign.

    The signs from the May primary and municipal elections have been quite useful for Food is Free, a group that helps build drought-tolerant gardens in people’s front yards — thus far, mostly on the Brentwood street where co-founder John VanDeusen Edwards lives.

    “The cool thing is that both Democratic and Republican signs make a great garden. They’re bipartisan,” Edwards said.

    The 27-year-old former door-to-door insurance salesman has been running Food is Free since founding it in late January, and now he’s asking for old campaign signs to line the edges of garden boxes. They can be dropped off in front of his house at 5608 Joe Sayers Ave.

    The group, currently trying to register as a nonprofit, makes free wicking bed gardens, self-contained boxes bordered by plastic with soil on top of gravel or tumbled glass that acts like a natural water table. By watering through a pipe that leads to the rough bottom, Edwards said, the roughly 4-foot square planting boxes only need to be watered once every two to four weeks.

    “It helps people that don’t have time, have failed at gardening or they just weren’t interested before to get started with gardening,” Edwards said.

    Up and down his road, 19 of Edwards’ 30 neighbors have taken the boxes, which usually grow a few vegetables and fruits. Other streets, such as 38th Street in Cherrywood, have also gotten in on the action. Edwards said he started it to help build a sense of community with his neighbors and “return to the way our grandparents lived” by eating locally grown organic food.

    In Edwards’ backyard, where he also has a small farm and 27 chickens, there are stacks of hundreds of the corrugated plastic signs that lined Austin’s avenues throughout May. The bigger ones are more useful because he can cut them to fit, rather than having to squeeze several in, but Edwards will take them all. The metal used to hold up the signs can be used to make tomato cages, he said.
    David Wahlberg’s campaign dropped off a tall stack of the signs, Edwards said, after the lawyer’s win in the Democratic primary for the 167th District кондиционирование коттеджа в могилевской области judge “Leffingwell and (Brigid) Shea’s campaigns were both fired up
    Contact Farzad Mashhood at 
445-3972 about giving us their signs” as well, he said.

    To learn more about Food is Free, visit foodisfreeproject.orgor email foodisfreeproject@gmail.com.

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