Welcome wood chips instead of lawn

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From Aja, on why her family is doing what they're doing:

My family has an urban homestead in Gary where we grow about 200 varieties of food--fruit, vegetables, medicinal herbs, and mushrooms. Our home is zoned residential and agriculture. We transformed our front, back, and side yards to growing space. We use regenerative agriculture practices. We build our soil with organic material that is readily available--woodchips, leaves, seaweed, rainwater, coffee grounds. We don’t use any pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides. We only water with rainwater. We also use natural farming techniques that have been proven to build healthy, nutrient-dense vegetables and fruit. It’s been a three-year process of regenerating our soil and it’s been an amazing journey. I started the process because after our youngest daughter died, I had horrible inflammation. I was dealing with a lot of grief. I knew that in order to improve my mental and physical health, I had to go back to nature. Gardening is meditative. I also knew I needed probiotics that would help improve digestion and inflammation. The best probiotics come from healthy soil so that’s where I began. Our growing space is named A Rose for Yaminah after our daughter who died. We envision our home to be a model for Gary- regenerative agriculture, solar energy (which we are eventually getting), and other means of self-sufficiency. We believe this is the way to take a city that has been decimated by poverty and toxicity to the next century.


The Department of Environmental Affairs gave Aja Yasir a citation for her nontraditional yard. She has wood chips instead of lawn and was told that her wood chips are debris and that the chips attract bugs and fungi; therefore they are being deemed a health hazard.

I befriended Aja after touring her garden on a Farm Hop, sponsored by the Northwest Indiana Food Council. Her unique garden grows both food crops and ornamentals and was very attractive. Her garden was selected for inclusion not only for its beauty, but also because of the regenerative agriculture techniques she uses. By adding more chips, the soil gets better every year and therefore, her yields get better too. Without tilling. Without adding chemical fertilizers. Requiring far less watering due to the chips holding moisture far better than bare ground or turf grass. All of these things are very beneficial for the environment and especially the watershed health.

Please sign and share to help let local decision makers know you stand with Aja and others who want to use these methods to improve their soil and the environment.