Foodscaping, also known as edible landscaping, integrates edible plants into ornamental landscapes or garden designs. This innovative approach combines the benefits of growing your food with the beauty of traditional landscaping, making it both practical and visually appealing.
It is not limited to the front or backyard. Food scaping can happen everywhere on balconies, rooftops, road sides (although not really healthy) and in parks.
Parks may be troublesome, but convincing the councils to allow food to be grown in parks would be a big step forward. Unfortunately, it is a unicorn, as the legality and liability will not allow it to happen. Thanks to the “USA quick money-spinning lawsuits” which are now well established in Australia. It is sad.
In the Aussie Context
In recent years, Australia has experienced a surge in interest in food scaping. The lockdowns, break in the supply chains, and the price of food might have something to do with that. When I wrote a post about “Meeting at the library, a good idea?” I took a street view screenshot in Ryde, which shows a building with some greenery on top.
We Australians have embraced an approach to creating sustainable, productive, and aesthetically pleasing gardens that reflect our local environment. Yet it is not enough. When driving through town, there are still plenty of “golf course” mowed lawns (another pet hat of mine), wasting good land to grow food. I also believe that most food we grow is European, and we should, as part of the food scaping, introduce more native food trees.
I am guilty of growing European food types instead of native ones.
The rooftop shows some greenery. I don’t know if that is a food scape thing, but the place could be ideal for it if there is enough water available.
Food scaping offers a wide range of benefits that go beyond environmental, health, and social aspects. Here is a more detailed look at the advantages food scaping provides:
- Cost savings: Growing your food can reduce grocery bills, especially when growing high-value crops like herbs and berries. The humble potato, broccoli and garlic can easily reduce your grocery bill
- Property value: A well-designed and maintained foodscape can enhance the curb appeal and increase the property value.
- Local economy: If you set up a dedicated local foodscaping team to maintain the foodscape gardens, you can create a micro-economy by trading and bartering the produce. This approach differs from our Backyard Growers initiative but has the same outcomes.
- Hands-on learning: Foodscaping allows individuals, especially children, to learn about agriculture, botany, and ecology through hands-on experiences. Something that is left behind in today’s “modern” education system.
- Cultural exchange: Australia is a very multicultural society, and I love that about Australia. Food scaping fosters cross-cultural understanding and appreciation by incorporating plants from various cultural backgrounds.
- Therapeutic effects: Gardening has been shown to reduce stress and promote relaxation, providing mental health benefits to those who engage in food scaping. Getting some dirt under your fingernails helps to soothe the mind and bugs, but you can always put on some of the best garden gloves sold in Australia.
- Physical activity: Gardening and maintaining a foodscape encourages physical activity, contributing to overall health and fitness. Slap on your Fitbit, and you will be surprised how many steps and knee bends you do.
- Native species: Native plants in a foodscape help preserve local biodiversity and supports the ecosystem. I am not familiar with a lot of native food plants and trees. Planting them in the council strips and other “wasted” areas will bring more wildlife. This is a double-edged sword as you and the wildlife compete for the same food source.
- Plant diversity: A diverse foodscape attracts beneficial insects and wildlife, providing natural pest control and promoting a healthy ecosystem.
Food scaping is something other than something to be considered as a short-term fix or a short-term commitment. It takes time and lots of it. You need to find the correct plants to grow, involve the council where needed and find people willing to get their hands dirty.
It is a community garden on a council strip. BUT if you have the front yard available and want to avoid mowing or planting daisies, then a food-scaping approach is for you. Even better, turn your whole front and back yard into a garden oasis that you can eat.
Imagine coming home from work, and by the time you reach your front door, you have picked all the fresh food you need for dinner.
Here are some pros and cons you should consider (only viewable on desktop).
|Improved air quality due to increased vegetation.||Limited space for large-scale food-scaping projects.|
|Food scaping reduces the urban heat island effect through shading and evapotranspiration potential.||Potential conflicts with council regulations and/or residents.|
|Enhanced community engagement and social interactions, which in turn leads to less stress offline communication and perhaps even looking after eachother.||Increased maintenance and resources required. Instead of mowing, some areas might need closer attention. But you can plant food that is drought tollerant. Obviously there will be residents that prefer the English Cottage style gardens and will frown upon the food scaping idea.|
|Greater accessibility to fresh, locally grown produce. This is subject to where you plant, you want to reduce the splashing and run-off the street to a minimum to prevent toxics and heavy metals poluting your crops.||Unavoidable in this “day and age” is possible theft or vandalism of the food scape. Postcode Communities can be close knit and this will help to prevent theft and vandalism|
|Opportunities for educational programs and skill-building. Teaching you kids and others how to grow food, it is very rewarding.||Challenges in soil quality and contamination management.|
While food scaping has its challenges in urban environments, its potential benefits make it an increasingly popular and viable solution for city dwellers looking to create more sustainable and productive green spaces.