A Long Island couple is aiming to grow the local food movement while bringing it even closer to home — straight to homeowners’ front lawns.
Rosette Basiima Adams, 34, developed a green thumb in her native Uganda, where she began farming on her family’s plot around age 4. The idea of growing her own food was familiar, as she didn’t encounter grocery stores until immigrating to Long Island nearly a decade ago.
After working at a Community Supported Agriculture farm in Amityville, she decided she and her husband, James Adams, could do it themselves. Adams, 42, who quit his job at a swimming pool company last year, said he was looking for a way to “do something meaningful” and started researching urban farming.
That’s when Lawn Island Farms was born.
To bypass the high cost of farmland, the Adamses searched for residents willing to forego traditional clean-cut landscaping in favor of edible vegetation. They put up flyers in local shops advertising the unusual exchange. They are currently farming on two properties. The Adamses plant and tend the crops and the residents get a portion of the output.
“I believe the whole agricultural system is whacked out and people are really starting to become aware of it with all the pesticides and everything,” Adams said. “The solution to it is just to do more things like small farmers do.”
Cassandra Trimarco, 34, a physician assistant, who recently purchased a home on Hyman Avenue in Bay Shore, jumped at the chance to have her entire front lawn transformed. Last month, the Adamses planted a crop of non-genetically modified produce, such as lettuce, arugula, spinach, mustard greens, bok choy, and sunflowers without the use of pesticides. The first bounty is expected this month.
Trimarco said while some neighbors have complained about her use of the space, she sees an incredible value and lesson in sustainable agriculture.
“I’ve always been into nutrition and seen food as medicine. And it’s less landscaping for me. Why waste the space?” Trimarco said. “I want to make people aware and show people that you can grow your own food and make the land useful.”
In return, the Adamses will give Trimarco $30 worth of produce each week. Their second plot is on church land in Bay Shore that had once been used as a community garden.
The food not shared with landowners will be sold at farmers markets, the Adamses, of West Babylon, said. They are also in talks with area restaurateurs interested in serving the locally grown greens.
“It all comes from a community focus,” Basiima Adams said. “People knowing where their food is coming from is key.” She likes the added flexibility of being able to be around more for the couple’s 9-year-old twins, Curtis and Daisy.
While the Adamses say the farming is “very hard work” and time-consuming, they are not looking to expand their business much beyond the two current farms, but rather, inspire other Long Islanders to consider using their own yards to be self-sustaining.
“Everybody needs food, so why would you have a lawn instead of having food?” Basiima Adams said. “We want people to start thinking about different ways to feed their families and take care of the planet and the community at the same time.”
For more information, visit lawnislandfarms.com.