Earth Learning, a Miami-based sustainability group which focuses on food and agriculture, hosted the third annual Greater Everglades Community Food Summit, which ended last week. The summit included a tour of local farms and gardens.
The farm tour visited Frank Macaluso's Kendall home. Macaluso has turned his lawn, which sits on an approximately ¾-acre lot, into an edible garden.
The tour focused on regenerative agriculture, an approach to farming and gardening that shuns even the fertilizers and pesticides organic farmers are allowed to use, in favor of planting methods that provide for natural pesticide and weed management and that build healthy, rich soil.
Macaluso grows only for his own purposes, but the Earth Learning tour guides, Mario Yanez and Jennifer Garcia Matthews, chose the site to inspire visitors who might want to turn even a section of their lawn into an edible garden.
It's a labor intensive yard. Macaluso spends one to two hours weeding each day. He is retired after working as an adjunct professor of philosophy at University of Miami and Miami-Dade College.
Macaluso plants a wide variety in his dense garden so that he has different foods available in each season. If a plant becomes infested or diseased, there is enough variety in Macaluso's garden that he doesn't lose all of his harvest: "If you plant enough, the bugs get their share and you get yours."
Plants and trees in Macaluso's yard include edamame or soybean, arugula, carrots, leeks, broccoli, papaya, mulberry, macadamia, green beans and okra. Sweet potato and garlic chives make up a lot of the ground cover in his front yard.
When Macaluso wants fresh salad, he picks arugula, basil and other herbs from the backyard garden: "It's very convenient. I don't go to Publix too often." He says he mostly purchases rice and beans at the grocery store.