Grassland ecosystems dominated by Poaceae are estimated to cover 40.5% of Earth’s land base, and domestication of a few edible grass species into highly productive cereal grains aided the shift from nomadic food gathering to field cultivation and higher density habitation. In the Northern Hemisphere, grasses are used ornamentally and for pasture, fodder and forage with little thought that the grasses livestock grazed upon, or those we gaze upon have multi-functional uses elsewhere. In this age of climate change, the use of Poaceae solely for aesthetics and amenity depletes finite potable water supplies that are needed for human survival. Agricultural land is consumed for turf seed production, and land is removed from food production. Cereals and their growing regions, which we have depended upon as food for millennia, are unlikely to adapt to climate change, and this will result in food insecurity and famines. Despite traditional uses of Poaceae in various cultures, many unrealized needs for food, medicine and other material goods could be met elsewhere with knowledge transfer. Our modern relationship with grass as an ornamental or amenity must end. As designers, gardeners and urban dwellers, we must use Poaceae for its multi-functions, which will lead to resilience and survival.
Part of the book: Grasses