Backyard Abundance is a leading educational nonprofit residing in Johnson County, Iowa that helps people create beautiful, environmentally-beneficial landscapes that provide healthy food and habitat.

Since 2006, we have directly reached thousands of people through experiential classes, presentations, landscape tours, and design consultations.


Most everyone feels a desire to improve the health of our environment, but when faced with our monumental environmental problems the task seems too large and understanding how to proceed can feel overwhelming. In recognition of this frustration, Backyard Abundance was founded to provide you with the knowledge and tools needed to directly improve the health of our local environment.


No other Iowa organization teaches residents how to take small steps that transform the outdoors into spaces that demonstrate our ability to live in harmony with nature. Deep and lasting satisfaction comes from the daily observation of personally-made environmental improvements. This personal connection with a landscape evokes a strong desire to share actions and knowledge, quickly spreading our mission in a positive, grassroots way.


Backyard Abundance helps build vibrant communities by creating beautiful, resilient landscapes that provide healthy food and habitat.

Focus areas:


People learningBackyard Abundance envisions the growth of ecologically resilient communities that meet everyone’s basic needs of survival today and in the future. Yards and public areas grow healthy food and natural materials to nourish our bodies and support our local economy. The land supports healthy ecosystems by providing habitat, supporting healthy water quality, and emulating nature's resiliency. This community focus creates a healthy social fabric, ecological integrity, and a spirit of abundance for all.

Economic stability is improved

  • Food and other useful products are locally grown.
  • Stable, resilient, self-maintaining, food ecosystems are created which are powered primarily by solar energy instead of distant and unreliable fossil fuels.

Environmental health is improved

  • More wild areas are preserved due to the use of urban land for food growth.
  • Urban water is cleaned and aquifers are replenished through improved soil and stormwater management.
  • Less carbon dioxide and pollution is released due to the local planting, managing, harvesting, and shipping of food.
  • The perceived need to maximize food production through industrialized mechanisms is lessened which decreases soil loss and reduces pollution caused by harmful chemicals.
  • Energy is saved by composting organic waste locally rather than sending it to remote locations and then importing artificial fertilizer.
  • The resiliency of local ecosystems is increased through plant, animal, and insect diversity.

A new paradigm is cultivated for the human participation in ecological systems

  • By living and grazing within a healthy ecosystem, people realize that they are a part of nature, not separate from it.
  • Through the immersion in a healthy ecosystem, ecological education opportunities are constant and our understanding of how to mimic nature’s processes steadily evolves.

People reconnect with the source of their survival

Hand in earth

  • The value of healthy soil and water increases due to first-hand observation of its relevance to our survival.
  • Priorities shift from the pursuit of specious power, entertainment, and consumption to the creation and protection of healthy ecosystems. 

Healthy community is created

  • People share a common bond through the cultivation of food and the creation of healthy ecosystems.
  • Fulfillment is found by being with others and by being part of a larger whole.
  • A lasting bond to the community is established through the creation of beautiful and diverse landscapes.
  • Cooperation and assistance are promoted due to the widespread recognition that we are dependent on one another for long-term health and survival.
  • Due to the ubiquity and abundance of urban food, sharing, rather than hoarding, becomes more prominent and the unconscious fear of scarcity is reduced.