Growing Free Food and Community in Front Yard Farms

January 15, 2013 by


What began as a single Austin, Texas front yard garden, in less than three months became a whole block, then within a year spread to over 40 cities around the world.


The Food is Free Project, as the name implies, is a free gardening and community building movement launched in January 2012 with that one garden. It now shares more than food, teaching people everywhere how to connect with their neighbors and line their streets with front yard urban community gardens.

Open Source Community Garden, which has no fences, features four wicking bed gardens, greenhouse, mobile chicken coop with baby chickies, community picnic table and hammock under a Pecan Tree. 

Participants build the free gardens using salvaged resources that would otherwise be tossed in a landfill. The project introduces a very easy method of growing organic food with very little work using low maintenance drought-tolerant, wicking bed gardens, which only need irrigating every 2-4 weeks. Besides the wide variety of vegetables harvested, the project empowers people to grow their own food, while promoting interaction and connection between neighbors which results in a strengthened community.


Although their primary focus is on wicking bed gardens, the project supports any and all types of food growing methods. They recognize that wicking bed gardens aren’t perfect, but they use them and salvaged materials because they want to make it easy as possible for people to start growing their own food.

Re-purposing soil that used to be in front of a house–will now find a home in a wicking bed. 

Aspiring to create models for growing food in unused public spaces, The Food is Free Project is not only transforming residential blocks, but has also installed gardens at elementary schools, community arts spaces, farmers markets, churches and small businesses, providing opportunities for experiencing fresh, organic food, the power of community, and a cause greater than each of us.

Ultimate irony: the Food is Free Bus parked as a McDonald’s is torn down.



Everything the project does and shares is open source knowledge, so some people operate under the Food is Free name, while others simply follow the vision and principles of growing community and food in the front yard to engage and inspire others.


Donated tools and materials tob e put to good use.


Hoping front yard food gardens will become the new normal, the project is now sharing their mistakes and successes by documenting the process and making their open-sourced information available to anyone interested in spreading the passion.

Photos via Food is Free.


  1. Marc Grañén said:

    Congratulations !!! this is a huge social project. Now it’s time to enlarge it and make it extensible everywhere.
    From my position I’ll try to start it in my hometown.
    We’ll keep in touch

    — January 16, 2013 @ 13:36

  2. Robin Plaskoff Horton said:

    Thanks Marc, yes do let the Food is Free folks know you are enthused by their project and keep us posted on your progress!

    — January 16, 2013 @ 18:53

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