By Laurel Hopwood, Human Health & Environment Chair
Mari Keating has a vision. Mari believes that if we truly feel committed to treating the earth and one another with respect, the first place to show it is by how we treat the land we live on. Inspired by Heather Flores’ food activism and permaculture, Mari founded Food Not Lawns, Cleveland, which advocates replacing lawns with edible gardens. Neighbors stop by to look at what’s blooming and to chat. Mari knows that cutting grass doesn’t connect you to your community. Gardening does.
She’s aware that those who control our food control our lives, and when we take that control back into our own hands, we empower ourselves toward autonomy. “I doubt anyone wants their food choices to be controlled by Monsanto or dependent on shipments from China,” said Mari.
Mari’s yard is ever-changing, just as nature is ever-changing. She received certification in Permaculture Design, where she learned that Permaculture is a branch of ecological design which develops self-maintained agricultural systems modeled from natural ecosystems. The focus of permaculture is not on each separate element, but rather on the relationships created among elements by the way they are placed together; the whole becoming greater than the sum of its parts. As one strolls by or through her yard, a sense of peace and oneness is felt.
That’s not all. Mari hosts seed swaps. She does workshops on harvesting rainwater. She recognizes these simple acts build community by sharing stories and ideas. Friends are forged and potlucks happen. Those interested in learning more or getting involved can email Mari, view her profile, or visit Food Not Lawns,Cleveland.
Mari Keating is truly one of Northeast Ohio’s treasures. She walks the talk. “By altering our relationship to the land where we live, community is created, one yard at a time.” Her message could benefit anyone wishing to create a more sustainable future.