Imagine leaving your house with a cup of coffee and looking at your garden. A cherry tomato plant, ripe with shiny red fruit, has grown so tall and sprawling that the white handrail on the stairs serves as its trellis. The resulting appearance is a lush green entrance leading to the front door.
Cherry tomato stands tall behind shockingly blue asters and burgundy day lilies. Nearby, bees buzz around the fragrant blooming basil. The plum tree planted near the road is dotted with perfectly round purple-red fruits, almost ready to harvest. The plot of coontie palms planted near the plum tree is also pleasing to the eye.
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You have adopted foodcaping, the concept of integrating ornamental plants and edible plants into a traditional landscape. It may have started during the pandemic, with more time at home and a desire to tend to something growing.
Now, the garden’s bounty has provided groceries, which have proven doubly beneficial as the pandemic continues to disrupt the supply chain and drive up the cost of food.
“Construction of the year”
The concept of foodcapping is not new. In fact, foodcapping has been around in one form or another for centuries. In the early 2000s, Sydney Park Brown, now UF/IFAS Emeritus Associate Professor, published an EDIS document titled Edible Landscaping.
Brown describes how edible landscaping allows people to create a multifunctional landscape that increases food security, reduces food costs, and provides family fun and exercise, along with other benefits. Foodscaping, another term for edible landscaping, really took off as a movement during the 2008 economic recession.
At that time, a horticulturist named Brie Arthur wanted to grow vegetables to save money on groceries, like many Americans. However, restrictions imposed by her homeowners association forced her to venture away from a standard vegetable garden.
Within six months, Arthur had won the ‘Yard of the Year’ award, proving that edible plants can also be aesthetically pleasing, especially when incorporated into landscaping. She’s since moved on, but Brie Arthur continues to foodscape.
Feed the family
Now her one-acre lot in North Carolina provides nearly 70% of what she and her husband consume. Her garden produces food year-round, ranging 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 supporter of the foodscape movement, inspiring others to realize the full potential of their landscape.
Arthur will come to the UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center (NFREC) in Quincy on March 5, 2022, to give a talk entitled “A New Era in Foodscaping”. The conference will be tailored to North Florida residents. More information about the event can be found below.
Brie’s YouTube channel, Brie the Plant Lady, is full of gardening tips and advice. Photos of her garden in North Carolina are available on her blog.
A New Era in Foodscaping is organized by Gardening Friends of the Big Bend, a non-profit volunteer group that supports UF/IFAS NFREC and Gardens of the Big Bend, a botanical garden located at UF/IFAS NFREC. This event is sponsored by Tallahassee Nurseries.
If you are going to
What: Presentation by Brie Arthur on “A new era in the food landscape”
When: 10 a.m.-12 p.m., Saturday March 5
Or: UF/IFAS NFREC-Quincy (155 Research Road, Quincy, 32351)
Tickets: $25-$70; eventbrite.com
Details: Brie’s two 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 participants will receive a free assortment of vegetable, flower and grain transplants to create 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 [email protected]
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