Secret Garden

For curious gardening beginners or experienced home crop growers, foodscaping provides a fresh take on the traditional “garden”. By adding a layer of purpose to ornamental plantings, homeowners can elevate their yards to provide both beauty and bounty.

Brie Arthur is a horticulturist and author of The Foodscape Revolution. Her book outlines how adding edible plants to a more traditional landscape can not only make it more beautiful but provide food as well.

“Traditionally, our food crops are separated from our ornamental plants, often grown in the farthest corner of our backyard. With foodscaping we bring the edibles front and centre and mix them into the beds allowing the ornamental plants to offer the needed biological diversity to help ward off problem insects and diseases,” said Arthur.

While living in a neighbourhood with strict Homeowner Association rules, Arthur planted vegetables into her ornamental landscape beds to help cut costs at the grocery store. Her sneaky gardening paid off, and she won “yard of the year”. She started thinking she was on to something.

“When grown in a beautiful way, ‘food in your front yard’ isn’t offensive to anyone!” said Arthur.

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Sustainable Living

In a time when more and more homeowners are looking to live more sustainably, foodscaping offers people a gateway to growing their own food. Some find a robust traditional “food garden” too daunting and therefore don’t attempt it. Foodscaping allows people to start small and incorporate herbs, vegetables or fruits that they like into their yards slowly, knowing there is always room for more (if desired).

“Every plant that we grow is a contribution to the world at large, especially food crops. Anytime you can grow something you eat you help reduce the global food miles statistics! Even the simplest change of your grocery stores habits leads to more sustainable living,” said Arthur.

Global populations continue to rise and innovation in food production will need to continue to evolve. In the Caribbean, where imported foods can be extremely expensive, foodscaping can provide an alternative to produce that has been shipped hundreds or thousands of miles.

Tropical Tips

Determining the best place to begin a new foodscape is quite important, as is quality soil and access to water.

Arthur believes that bed edges are a good place to start: “Every landscape has an edge, and it is probably not planted. The bonus is that bed edges are the easiest part of a landscape bed to access for planting, watering and harvesting.” 

Many food crops grown by home gardeners are closely related, and therefore don’t provide as much vegetative variety or protection from pests and disease. Alternately, foodscaping encourages integrating plants of different families together, to create a thriving culture of natural species that not only looks interesting but if one tomato plant is infected by pests, it’s not likely that its surrounding plant neighbours would be affected by the same pest.

Arthur suggests that tropical fruit trees like mango and guava are not only lovely food providers but can become central landscape features to be treasured and treated as such.

Reaping the Rewards

From speaking to and encouraging gardeners around the world to finding creative “workarounds” for pesky and strict homeowner associations, Arthur believes that the simple act of growing plants – and food specifically – is creating a foundation for the future of our environment. 

“When you grow even small amounts of food that you eat you develop a strong appreciation for what farmers provide our global population. Gardening solves so many problems and it is a pleasure to share advice with audiences and help them grow successfully,” said Arthur.

You can learn more about Brie Arthur on her website at BrieGrows.com. Her books are available there and on Amazon.com and she can be found on Facebook at @briegrows and on Instagram at @brietheplantlady.

 

Sara Sherman
Sara Sherman is a former St. Thomas resident and the editor of Virgin Islands Property & Yacht.
Sara Sherman

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