"One block at a time, we can make our world a better place." — Food Is Free

In November of 2011, John VanDeusen Edwards put a 4×4 raised garden of winter greens in his front yard in Austin, Tex. He also put a up a sign saying the greens were for the neighborhood and a request for people interested in getting involved to post their contact information. Three months later, 19 of the 30 homes on his block had front yard gardens and the Food Is Free project was born.

The idea is brilliant in its simplicity: low-maintenance garden beds growing a variety of veggies and herbs, scattered throughout communities. Using repurposed and salvaged materials, including pallets and campaign signs, the Food Is Free team of volunteers builds a bed for anyone willing to take care of it. It’s an exercise in hyper-local food production and strengthening communities through sharing.

Now with over 200 gardens in yards, schools, community centers, churches and small businesses in and around Austin, the Food Is Free project demonstrates that people are ready for alternatives to our broken, wasteful, food system. It also proves that a small, thoughtful act can have a transformative effect on a community.

Cat Johnson


Cat Johnson | |

Cat Johnson is a content strategist and teacher helping community builders create strong brands. A longtime writer, marketing pro and coworking leader, Cat is the founder of Coworking Convos and