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The Revival of Edible Landscapes

The instances of urban agriculture operations are increasing globally. Localized food production in urban settings – whether large or small-scale – are proving to be an effective way to reduce environmental impacts of agriculture, provide a good economic base, and bring communities together over food. Urban agriculture comes in many shapes and sizes, but one positively disruptive version has cropped up in the form of guerilla gardening. This spontaneous act of gardening is also known as edible landscapes, whereby instead of planting typical vegetation, food-producing plants are grown in front of buildings, along streets, and in front yards. These edible landscapes are typically created by an ambitious and organized group of local food enthusiasts and bring together communities to manage the maintenance and reap the benefits.

What Are Edible Landscapes

Edible landscapes are areas where standard landscaping occurs but with food producing plants instead of typical ornamental vegetation. More and more homeowners and gardening enthusiasts are opting to plant fruits and vegetables in obvious locations for others to see. In fact, this concept is growing in popularity as the National Garden Association estimates that 22% of Americans have a form of vegetable garden. Many are combining ornamentals and edibles together to create a blend of beauty and function within their gardens.

Rising food prices and concerns over food safety make this urban agriculture option a no-brainer for many families and individuals who are looking for healthy living solutions. Edible landscapes have become a popular concept in small communities around the world who work together to plant vegetables in green spaces around the city. The yields are for all to enjoy and share among community members.

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Benefits of Edible Landscapes

Edible landscaping offers many benefits socially, economically, and environmentally. Here are few of them that many of us can experience with our own edible landscapes:

  • More enjoyable maintenance process
  • A better alternative to lawns which consume precious water resources
  • Fresh kitchen ingredients are yielded and can be harvested when ripe
  • Saves families money on grocery bills
  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the food supply chain
  • A wide range of fruit and vegetable plants can be grown in on small area
  • Can be maintained organically without the use of harsh fertilizers and pesticides
  • Available for sharing yields with neighbors and community members
  • Positive option in front of office buildings, school yards, and in city green spaces
  • No energy costs – sunlight is free!
  • Greater nutritional value as crops are picked fresh
  • An opportunity to teach children about the importance of growing your own food
  • Increases awareness and conversation surrounding localized food production
  • Food can be provided to local community groups who support struggling families
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The Incredible Edibles’ police station garden in Todmorden, UK. Image via Incredible Edibles.

Examples of Edible Landscapes

As mentioned before, guerilla gardening is the random act of gardening started by a group of organized community members who opt to plant fruit, vegetable, and herb plants truly anywhere with soil. One example of this form of edible landscaping was started in a small English town called Todmorden. They referred to their edible landscaping movement as “propaganda gardening”. They began planting edibles in front of city buildings like the health center and the police station. The idea caught on and other community members began to turn their front lawns into edible landscapes as well. They even started an edible landscape in the local cemetery.

The major benefit of this movement was that it got people talking about the idea of growing your own food. It even began a new form of tourism: Vegetable Tourism. The edible landscaping movement brought people together over the common global language of food. It proved that people are willing to work together to create small, positive changes when it comes to food production.

Check out the TED Talk video below by Pam Warhurst who spearheaded the edible landscape movement in her UK town. Pam explains the tremendous social benefits that unfolded as a result of their “propaganda gardening” actions.

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These concepts are replicable in towns all around the world. The excess yields from the edible landscapes can be donated to local charities, and fundraising programs. Notably, the support gained from edible landscaping can draw the attention of local governments which have the power to plan for urban agriculture to be a central element at the heart of the community.

About The Author

PowerHouse Growers
PowerHouse Growers teaches you how to sustainably integrate urban agriculture into your cities, businesses, and homes. We provide clear solutions and benefits for better health, increased productivity, and lower environmental impact. By connecting you with experts, we bring awareness to solutions that may not be top of mind.