Foodscapes: A New Direction For Landscaping And The Industry

Brie Arthur
Brie Arthur

Professionally designed and maintained foodscapes are my hope for the future of American landscapes. As the global population rises locally, cultivated food systems will be developed to help reduce the food miles crisis. The sun, soil and irrigation systems of common landscaped spaces such as suburban developments, corporate campuses, retirement homes and public schools can be harnessed to produce supplemental, affordable food for communities.

Foodscapes Unite Beauty With Practicality

I began my first foodscape 10 years ago when I purchased a home in the suburbs of Raleigh, N.C. Money was tight, and I couldn’t afford the lumber to build raised beds and fill them with yards of purchased compost. Determined to grow food, I used the foundation landscape that already existed to cultivate seasonal, edible plants.

What I discovered was a harmonious marriage of aesthetic and practical qualities. I was hooked on growing food within finely designed spaces. Now, a decade later, every landscape represents the possibility of food production.

Foodscaping isn’t about living off the grid; rather, it is the practical integration of edibles in an existing ornamental landscape. It utilizing tiny spaces within each landscape to produce percentages of food.

Organic growing techniques are combined with mulching and edging to keep the space looking clean and tidy. Beds are designed in a way that best utilizes the natural resources of water flow and light, while seasonal crops are rotated to enhance the ornamentals. A bio-diverse range of plants is selected to increase populations of beneficial pollinators and wildlife. Foodscapes are living ecosystems that meet the aesthetic needs of the general population while serving a greater purpose for the environment and the kitchen.

The essence of a foodscape comes from the supplemental produce that engages people in a unique capacity: a ripe tomato hanging within a ‘Limelight’ hydrangea, peppers woven within pink muhly grass, amber waves of grain sweeping as a purposeful groundcover. These unexpected combinations enhance the experience of the passerby while raising awareness of how food grows. Food crops empower people on many levels. From plant recognition to raising awareness of health through consumption, foodscapes offer an opportunity to expand the role horticulture plays in society.

Foodscapes Engage Future Generations In Learning

Public schools may be one of the best areas to develop this model. By combining the value of healthy eating and the science of horticulture, we can inspire the next generation in a meaningful way. The Bullock Garden project in Glassboro, N.J., is a great example of how a horticulture initiative can positively influence society by creating a foodscaped teaching garden.

Volunteers made quick work of transforming a neglected courtyard into a school garden with foodscaping.
Volunteers made quick work of transforming a neglected courtyard into a school garden with foodscaping.

Through a national collaboration known as #SustainableHeroes, headed up by celebrity landscaper and HGTV host Ahmed Hassan, we “school crashed” the property of Bullock Elementary to transform an unused courtyard into a bountiful classroom in one weekend.

It was a career-changing experience for me in many ways. The excitement of the teachers, administrators and other volunteers filled me with the sense that horticultural knowledge is valuable and necessary. Hearing 500 children chant “Garden! Garden! Garden!” during a pep rally brought tears to my eyes and a sense of meaning I had never experienced before.

Thanks to the generosity of donors like Peace Tree Farms and Organic Mechanics Soil, the schoolyard garden at Bullock Elementary produces plenty of fruits and vegetables. The school has partnered with the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s Jersey Fresh program to raise and serve Jersey Fresh produce in the cafeteria. Chef Simon harvests from the garden for a weekly tasting menu to encourage students to eat more vegetables.

The New Jersey Agricultural Society trained teachers and provides free courses on how to incorporate garden lessons across the curriculum. Teachers use the garden as a space for instructing writing and reading, in addition to teaching growing, harvesting and culinary skills. Under the supervision of teachers and FoodCorps representative Laura Pennington, classes have a rotating schedule in the garden. The school plans to continue developing an interactive garden classroom/STEM lab this year.

Horticulture education belongs in every school system. Students will eat and learn from what they grow. Children relish time spent in a garden, and edible classrooms are an excellent way to connect health, wellness and nutrition to horticulture. The green industry has an incredible opportunity to team up with programs like Growing Minds to help train individuals to design and establish school foodscapes by integrating gardening into state and national curricula.

Foodscape Movement Offers Hope

Growing food has empowered me to set my hopes high and envision a future where landscape maintenance professionals play a role in local organic food production. From public schools to the sprawling suburbs, the sun, soil and irrigation systems are waiting to be harnessed for the greater good of health, wellness, community and environment.

Brie Arthur ([email protected]) is a green industry communicator and foodscape designer in Raleigh, N.C.

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

6 comments on “Foodscapes: A New Direction For Landscaping And The Industry

  1. I LOVE this!! I’ve been thinking lately that NO school, apartment complex or housing development from this moment on should be designed without some kind of community garden space. Just this bit of food grown for the tenants can make a wonderful difference. And this kind of project at a school will teach kids all kinds of lessons including math, science and record keeping.

  2. […] Foodscapes: A New Direction For Landscaping And The Industry Professionally designed and maintained foodscapes are my hope for the future of American landscapes. As the global population rises locally, cultivated food systems will be developed to help reduce the food miles crisis. The sun, soil and irrigation … Read more on Greenhouse Grower (blog) […]

  3. I agree that the best garden is the food garden. I mean, flowers and trees are useful and nice too, but having in mind the growing population of the planet, trying to grow organic food should be our top priority. I am very happy that more and more people start realising it and start growing more vegetables and fruits in their gardens. And you can both grow food and have a organised, original landscape. All you need is some creativity.

More From Greenhouse Grower's GROW...

December 15, 2017

Your AFE Donations Will Be Matched Between Now and the End of the Year

Between now and December 1, any donations made to the American Floral Endowment will be matched up to $20,000.

Read More

December 9, 2017

Southern California Wildfires Narrowly Miss Most Grower Operations

Here’s an update on horticulture businesses in the areas affected by the California wildfires.

Read More
Weigela Czechmark (Spring Meadow Nursery)

December 8, 2017

Spring Meadow’s New Logo Highlights Focus on New, Colorful Shrubs

In a move that highlights its commitment to developing new, colorful flowering shrubs, Spring Meadow Nursery has unveiled a new logo.

Read More
Latest Stories

December 15, 2017

Your AFE Donations Will Be Matched Between Now and the …

Between now and December 1, any donations made to the American Floral Endowment will be matched up to $20,000.

Read More
HortScholars

December 8, 2017

HortScholars Program Now Accepting Applications for 201…

Do you know any college students currently in a horticulture-related program? This unique program gives them a chance to connect with industry leaders and make new connections at Cultivate.

Read More
GROW-Summit-2017-Group-Photo

December 5, 2017

GROW Summit 2017 Tackles Marketing and Business Managem…

This year’s think-tank style event brought together leaders from across the green industry to deliberate on topics such as disruptive marketing, cost accounting, and Millennials, to name a few.

Read More
Photo-with-Endless-Summer-Hydrangea

November 27, 2017

Why It’s Important to Get to Know Consumers at th…

One way to learn about consumer behavior is to get boots on the ground and engage with them.

Read More
Seed-Your-Future-feature

November 9, 2017

Dümmen Orange Throws Support Behind Seed Your Future In…

Dümmen Orange has announced it will pledge $450,000 over the next three years to Seed Your Future, the non-profit organization whose mission is to promote horticulture in the U.S. and inspire people to pursue careers working with plants.

Read More

November 1, 2017

Thanks to the 2018 GROW Sponsors

There are a number of industry organizations that help make Greenhouse Grower’s GROW Initiative a success.

Read More
Marshall Dirks, Proven Winners

October 28, 2017

5 Rules for Creating a Lifetime of Outdoor Garden Memor…

Many customers are time starved. Their most important asset is time, not money, so be realistic about the investment of both when they are buying plants.

Read More
Living Umbrellas

October 25, 2017

Why Living Umbrellas May Have a Bright Future

Sometimes innovation strikes by chance. Such was the case with David Tilley, developer of the “Living Umbrella.”

Read More
Luxflora Paris Trip

October 20, 2017

Luxflora Paris Trip Offers Insights on Trends Shaping H…

Each year, Luxflora hosts an international trip that allows participants to gain insights on trends and gather inspiration that ultimately will shape and support our industry in many ways. This year’s event took the group to Maison & Objet and Design Week in the City of Lights – Paris, France.

Read More
Steve Garvey, Dallas Johnson Greenhouses

September 23, 2017

Producing Quality Plants in the Greenhouse Starts From …

It's common for growers to make mistakes. What you learn from those mistakes is what sets you apart as a grower and where quality starts.

Read More
Quality in the Greenhouse

September 21, 2017

Two Head Growers and a Retail Live Goods Buyer Talk Bes…

Ultimately, the quality of the plants you grow will be responsible for the success of the consumer, and consumer success will ideally translate to repeat sales. That’s why quality must be a top priority for all growers, according to Brad Julian, a Live Goods Buyer for Lowe’s Home Improvement, and Head Growers Dennis Crum of Four Star Greenhouse and Joe Moore of Lucas Greenhouses.

Read More
Jan Gulley, Gulley Greenhouses

August 25, 2017

Why It’s Important to Educate and Engage the New Hortic…

Young adults entering the workforce have more professional choices than ever before, and many want to work in environments in which their work has a clear purpose for both the organization and society at large.

Read More
Seed Your Future feature

July 26, 2017

Seed Your Future Aims to Inspire Careers in Plants

Who will be the next generation of horticulturists? The answer lies in helping to change the perception of horticulture and using contemporary new language to tell our stories.

Read More
Albert Grimm, Jefferys Greenhouses

July 8, 2017

How You Can Use Lifestyle Marketing to Sell Plants

Should we be trying to educate consumers into loving what we like to produce, or should we allow consumers to educate us into producing what they love?

Read More
Metrolina Make a Wish Greenhouse

July 7, 2017

Metrolina Builds, Decorates Greenhouse for Young Cancer…

When Michael VanWingerden and his wife Courtney heard through their work with the Make-A-Wish foundation that 11-year-old Jason wanted a greenhouse to grow vegetables in, they knew Metrolina Greenhouses could help.

Read More
Metrolina Greenhouses Dig and Swig Event

June 25, 2017

Consumers Revel in Gardening at Metrolina Greenhouses’ …

Metrolina wanted to promote plants, gardening, and creating a sense of community, so it decided to host Dig & Swig events at a local brewery.

Read More

May 23, 2017

6 Simple Ways to Acquire New Customers

Even the most successful brands need new customers if they want to grow their business, or stay profitable.

Read More
Tyler Beasley

May 21, 2017

Final California Spring Trials Thoughts From Allan Armi…

“I went home from California Spring Trials realizing that the students enrolled in our Greenhouse Management program at Spokane Community College need to experience the trials. Attending opened many doors of opportunity for me.”

Read More