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Foodscaping Your Garden into an Edible Spectacle
By: Admin    June 02 2017 , 08:37 pm
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The typical homeowner might see growing vegetables and other edibles as an aesthetic sacrifice, as compared to cultivating a garden full of eye-catching ornamentals. But modern gardeners are challenging that notion, coming up with innovative ways to maintain a garden’s beauty while being composed of edibles. This trend, “foodscaping,” has quietly been gaining momentum over the past few years, and is reaching a cultural zenith as today’s homeowners tend towards organic produce, eco-friendly practices, and sustainable living.

Foodscaping is not just about cultivating edible plants and vegetation. It involves creative planning and placement of edibles where ornamental plants would traditionally be, creating a scape that is both beautiful and sustainable. It also involves changing traditional concepts of beauty in landscaping. Many neighborhoods and developments have strict rules on agricultural activity so as not to compromise the attractiveness of the homes. But with the rise of foodscaping, those rules might change soon because it has been proven that edibles can be grown with the same amount of aesthetic appeal as ornamentals.

Most gardening sources agree that foodscaping started in 2008-2010, following the housing bubble burst and economic recession. Consumers became focused on downsizing, budgeting, and sustainability. Foodscaping was a natural response to this challenging financial atmosphere.

“Foodscapes are living ecosystems that meet the aesthetic needs of the general population while serving a greater purpose for the environment and the kitchen,” explains Brie Arthur, author of The Foodscape Revolution: Finding a Better Way to Make Space for Food and Beauty in your Garden in an article for Greenhouse Grower. “Organic growing techniques are combined with mulching and edging to keep the space looking clean and tidy,” while “[b]eds are designed in a way that best utilizes the natural resources of water flow and light.” These techniques result in beautiful, well thought out landscapes that can also feed a family.

Community gardens and “agrihoods” (neighborhoods built around a farm where residents grow food together) are closely related to the foodscaping trend. But foodscaping combines both the practical need of growing food to reduce costs and to help the community, with the aesthetic desire of having a trendy, beautifully landscaped front yard. With a little bit of creativity, both can be accomplished.

The financial benefits for integrating foodscaping on your property could be staggering. Rosalind Creasy of Edible Landscaping conducted an experiment by reserving a 5-by-20 foot area and growing simple vegetables such as tomatoes, bell peppers, zucchini, and lettuce. She combined her harvests from April to September, researched equivalent organic produce prices, and calculated that she had saved $683 on fresh vegetables. That is a game-changer for many households that want to afford fresh food for their families.

Creasy continued to calculate that if 42 million U.S. household gardens (roughly half of all U.S. household gardens) “took out a 5-by-20 foot area of lawn and grew a 100-square-foot garden, that would take 96,419 acres (150 square miles) out of lawn cultivation” and the savings on fresh produce would be roughly $14.4 billion. Couple those savings with the satisfaction of maintaining a beautiful outdoor appearance, and the appeal of foodscaping becomes undeniable!

Charlie Nardozzi, a garden coach and author of Foodscaping: Practical and Innovative Ways to Create an Edible Landscape, recommends that homeowners can start by thinking about their current yard and visualizing how to replace ornamental plants with similarly-sized edible ones. He gives several examples on his website, Gardening with Charlie. Nardozzi notes that a crabapple tree could be replaced with a weeping mulberry; burning bushes replaced with blueberry bushes; Zinnia flowers with marigolds; and wisteria vines with grape or mint.

“In flower gardens, mix and match attractive vegetables, herbs and fruit such a[s] alpine strawberries, colorful lettuce, Swiss chard and kale, hot peppers and attractive artichokes,” Nardozzi suggests on Gardening Know How. “Use mint, nasturtiums and thyme as ground covers under trees.” With substitutes like these, your garden will not lose any of its beauty or charm, but will gain the benefit of providing food for your family or community. The possibilities are vast and exciting!

Your garden is not the only thing that can be replaced with edibles. Even your lawn can be foodscaped, as seen in these images from Nashville Foodscapes, in which grass has been replaced with white clover. Since white clover only grows to 6 inches in height at most, a clover lawn means no wasted energy or time on mowing! And the nectar will feed local bees and butterflies.

Popular culture is starting to take notice of foodscaping as well. Every year, Disney World’s Epcot puts on an International Flower and Garden Festival, renowned for its sprawling floral scenes such as topiaries in the shape of beloved Disney characters. Recently, the festival has also featured gorgeous foodscaping, like an English Tea Garden and an Urban Spice Garden, and the crops grown were reportedly used at many of the restaurants on site. With big players like Disney World integrating this trend, the rest of the world might not be far behind.

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Piper Young Sep 21,2017

Great article! I've been slowly working my way into this (in all my spare time). Thank you for more inspiration!