Food is Free John VanDeusen Edwards

Plant a Garden: Food is Free with John VanDeusen Edwards

Everyday John VanDeusen Edwards wakes up to his rooster and tends to his pig Matilda in his urban garden. Could simple living and a front yard garden help pay off debt?

The Story Behind Food is Free with John VanDeusen Edwards

He started Food is Free, a non-profit, to form an ultra local food system. After he planted his first front yard garden, he wondered, “What would it look like if we got a whole block growing front yard gardens?”

He holds workshops to teach others how to grow front yard wicking bed gardens made out of salvaged materials like old political signs. These gardens are perfect for new gardeners as they only need to be watered every 2-4 weeks. “What we grow in these front yard gardens is community. Everyone brings something to the table. And it feels good to share. It is in our DNA,” said Edwards. John is creating a new way of life, a movement, and a community revolving around gardening and being able to give what you harvest to your neighbors. As I toured his urban garden I saw that gardening is more than just making food free. I couldn’t help but want to dig even more into the financial side of things.

With student loans surpassing the trillion dollar mark, many people heavy debt loads, but still feel obligated to live in an expensive luxury apartment with granite counter tops. Not John.

Over a year ago John purchased a trailer with his savings, “I had a lot of stuff. My stuff was honestly weighing me down,” he said.

He sold his furniture and gave his “stuff” away. The trailer has paid for itself within nine months from savings on what he would have paid towards rent, “No matter how much money you make you are going to spend it and sometimes spend more. You can never be truly happy with you, and your stuff, and your apartment,” said Edwards.

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The process of gardening in and of itself is anti-immediate gratification: you plant a seed and harvest later. “That is what every gardener falls in love with is the process. The harvest,” said Edwards. 

Could planting a garden be the solution to paying off student loan debt? Maybe. Perhaps the solution lies not just in eating food for free from your garden, but also in mirroring the entire lifestyle of a farmer: live below your means, slow down, live simply, use what you already have, and consume less. John encourages people to reconsider what is or isn’t necessary.

Remember, “I am not my things.  I am not what I do. I am not what other people think of me,” said Edwards.

The story of Food is Free and John VanDeusen Edwards shows that life does not have to be expensive.

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