Imagine walking out of your front door with a cup of coffee and admiring your garden. A cherry tomato plant, ripe with shiny red fruit, has grown so large and sprawling that the white staircase handrail is serving as its trellis. The resulting appearance is a lush green entranceway to the front door.
The cherry tomato stands tall behind shockingly blue stokes asters and burgundy day lilies. Nearby, bees buzz around fragrant flowering basil. The plum tree planted near the road is peppered with perfectly round reddish-purple fruit that is almost ready to harvest. The patch of coontie palms planted near the plum tree is also pleasing to the eye.
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You’ve taken up foodscaping, the concept of integrating ornamental plants and edible plants within a traditional landscape. It may have begun during the pandemic, with more time spent at home, and the desire to tend to the growth of something.
Now, the garden’s bounty has provided groceries, which has proven doubly beneficial as the pandemic continues to disrupt the supply chain and drive up the cost of food.
‘Yard of the Year’
The concept of foodscaping is not new. In fact, foodscaping has been around in some form or fashion for centuries. In the early 2000s, Sydney Park Brown, now a UF/IFAS emeritus associate professor, published an EDIS document titled, Edible Landscaping.
Brown describes how edible landscaping allows people to create a multi-functional landscape that increases food security, reduces food costs, and provides fun and exercise for the family, along with other benefits. Foodscaping, another term for edible landscaping, really took off as a movement during the 2008 economic recession.
Around that time, a horticulturist named Brie Arthur wanted to grow vegetables to save money on groceries, like many Americans. However, the restrictions placed by her homeowner association forced her to venture away from a standard vegetable garden.
Within six months, Arthur had won “Yard of the Year,” proving that edible plants can also be aesthetically pleasing, especially when incorporated into a landscape design. She has since moved, but Brie Arthur continues to foodscape.
Feeding the family
Now, her one-acre lot in North Carolina provides almost 70% of what she and her husband consume. Her garden produces food year-round, everything from sweet potatoes, garlic, and pumpkins to edible flowers like dahlias. She even grows sesame and barley, or as she calls it, “future-beer.”
Brie Arthur is a charismatic speaker and bestselling author. She continues to be a major proponent of the foodscape movement, inspiring others to realize their landscape’s full potential.
Arthur will be coming to the UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center (NFREC) in Quincy on March 5, 2022, to give a talk titled, “A New Era in Foodscaping.” The talk will be tailored to North Florida residents. More information on the event can be found below.
Brie’s YouTube channel, Brie the Plant Lady, is chock-full of gardening tips and advice. Photos of her garden in North Carolina can be found on her blog.
A New Era in Foodscaping is hosted by Gardening Friends of the Big Bend, a nonprofit volunteer group that supports the UF/IFAS NFREC and Gardens of the Big Bend, a botanic garden located at the UF/IFAS NFREC. This event is sponsored by Tallahassee Nurseries.
If you go
What: Brie Arthur talk on “A New Era in Foodscaping”
When: 10 a.m.-noon, Saturday, March 5
Where: UF/IFAS NFREC-Quincy (155 Research Road, Quincy, 32351)
Tickets: $25-$70; eventbrite.com
Details: Both of Brie’s Books, Gardening with Grains and Foodscape Revolution, can be purchased at the event or with your ticket. Books can be signed by Brie Arthur at the event. Workshop attendees will receive a complimentary assortment of vegetable, flower, and grain transplants to start their own foodscapes.
Kelly Thomas is a volunteer writer for UF/IFAS Extension Leon County and an Agricultural/Food Scientist at the UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center. For gardening questions, email the extension office at AskAMasterGardener@ifas.ufl.edu.
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