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Investing in Your Dirt

How Growing Food Nurtures the Environment, Your Health and Community

As environmental consciousness gains more traction and food prices soar, families can make a positive impact by transforming traditional lawns into vibrant edible gardens. Not only does this shift represent an investment in the environment, but it also can offer a plethora of benefits for both physical
health and community cohesion.

Marcus Carini, co-founder of Newfound Foodscapes, an edible garden design, installation, and coaching company, has long envisioned flourishing edible gardens when others saw lawns or unused dirt patches. That’s in part why he and his wife, Beth Leonardo, created their business.
“Rather than maintaining grass that just serves an aesthetic purpose, we saw an opportunity where families can use that space to grow organic food,” said Carini. “It’s such a win-win in many ways because they know what they’re eating. Some people want to save money and reduce their carbon footprint by minimizing the need for transportation and packaging associated with store-bought produce. If that’s not as important to you, growing your own organic garden eliminates pesticides and fertilizers and makes soil your asset.”

Leonardo says there are still opportunities to invest in organic gardening for those who still like their lawns. “You can grow food anywhere. A nice lawn conversion is great, but you can grow food inside yards, parking strips, along a fence or patio, and even window ledges,” she said.

As they grew the business (pun intended), they began to see other benefits. Cultivating food can foster a sense of community. Seeing lush vegetable beds replacing traditional lawns often sparks curiosity and conversation among neighbors. They’ve had neighbors or passersby inquire about gardening, exchange tips, or even express interest in starting their own edible gardens. This shared interest in sustainable living creates opportunities for connection, resilience, and camaraderie, such as sharing the bounty of the harvests with neighbors.

For garden experts like Carini and Leonardo, making a transition from conventional lawns to productive edible gardens represents a multifaceted investment with far-reaching benefits. They have seen families
not only contribute to environmental sustainability and prioritize their health through organic eating but also create familial rituals of togetherness while fostering a sense of community from shared gardening experiences.

The Sacramento County Water Agency is on board with this investment in your garden. They offer a “Cash for Grass” program where
residential customers may receive a rebate of $1 per square foot up to a maximum of $2,000 per household for grass removed for sustainable use. To learn more about the requirements and apply, visit

GROW veggies that are more nutrient-dense than industrial organic produce

HARVEST the freshest and most flavorful produce right when you need it

REDUCE the carbon footprint and waste created through grocery distribution

To learn more about how your yard can grow organic, nutrient-dense food, visit and follow their Instagram page to see projects they are working on and get tips for your own environmentally friendly, edible garden. 

  • Marcus Carini and Beth Leonardo, Founders, Newfound Foodscapes