WHAT?: Foodscaping (also known as edible landscaping) is the practice of using edible, yet attractive, plants, shrubs, and trees to replace or complement an ornamental landscape.
Foodscapes can be as simple as tucking a few lovely herbs or salad greens in a perennial garden. They can be as small as a couple of pots of tomatoes and basil on an apartment balcony. They can be as lavish as the potager at le Chateau de Villandry. Okay, so most of us won't be going that big. The point is that, just like all gardens, they can reflect you, what you like to eat, what you enjoy growing, your budget, and your personal style.
By Jean-Christophe BENOIST - Own work, CC BY 3.0
WHY?: Most of the country lives in urban or suburban areas where our edible gardens are not only utilitarian, but need to be an aesthetic part of our landscape. Let's face it, some of our neighbors can be pretty judgy, and what if the best space for growing edible plants is in your front yard? Enter foodscaping, where edibles and ornamentals are mixed, and the edibles are nosy-neighbor friendly.
Some other reasons to consider foodscaping:
I am currently an MLIS student in my first semester at URI. A graduate of American University in Washington, DC, I have spent most of my working life in bookstores and environmental non-profits. My passion in my coursework is Public Librarianship, specifically connecting communities with the resources and programming to enrich themselves and provide a space for lifelong learning. I chose this topic because even more than books, I love gardening and I think making our home landscapes both beautiful and productive is important for a healthy environment.
A kitchen garden is a planned garden, usually positioned not far from the house, which provides a mix of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and ornamental plants. They can be formal with rigid rows, container patio gardens, or even sprawling cottage gardens. The main components of these gardens are that throughout the growing season there is always decorative interest, beds are neatly maintained, and are continuously in use.
Pioneered by Bill Mollison, permaculture, in short, is the practice trying to replicate natural ecosystems in our engineered landscapes. It focuses on the flows of water and nutrients as well as the use of edibles and native plants (with a nod toward perennials, shrubs and trees) to maximize the efficiency of cultivated land for the improvement of the health and well-being of the planet and it's inhabitants (not only human). While it tries to replicate wild systems, it can still look like a show-stopper as evidenced by this photo of a permaculture landscape.
Forest garden, as it sounds, is the practice of mimicking forest ecosystems with multiple "layers" of planting. Probably the most wild of the edible landscaping styles, it is a great use of backyard space. Since there are so many different heights of plants, it is imperative that those implementing this system understand the light and water requirements of the plants they wish to layer to ensure a robust ecosystem.
A couple in Canada decide to get healthy and grow their own veg. The back yard was too shady so they planted a lovely front yard vege garden. They meet the neighbors while building and maintaining their garden and at least one was not on board. This is their story.