Foodscaping: Transforming our lifestyle, health and environment

-

In the heart of vibrant communities and bountiful backyards around Vancouver Island, a growing movement has taken root. Edible landscaping, also known as foodscaping, is not just changing how we view our gardens; it’s transforming our lifestyle, health and environment.

Edible Landscaping: A Blend of Beauty & Production

Edible landscaping exists where landscaping and the local food movement come together. It’s an approach that combines the visual appeal of traditional ornamental gardening, with the practical benefits of growing your own food. Unlike conventional gardens that mainly prioritize aesthetics, edible landscapes serve a dual purpose: they are both beautiful and bountiful.

On Vancouver Island, where the mild climate is conducive to a wide range of edible and medicinal plants, homeowners are increasingly embracing this approach. Fruit trees provide both blossoms and fruit. Edible flowers, and colourful vegetables like rainbow chard and scarlet runner beans, add interest to the garden and our plates. Fragrant herbs line stepping stone pathways.

The appetite for local food continues to grow, and edible landscaping offers a unique opportunity to feed our families, increase our property value and reconnect with nature all at once.

Food Forestry: Mimicking Nature for Abundance

Food forestry, or forest gardening, takes edible landscaping a step further. This method involves creating layered gardens that mimic the structure and function of natural forests. A food forest typically includes a canopy of fruit and nut trees, a lower layer of berry bushes and an understory of perennial vegetables and herbs.

The beauty of a food forest lies in its ability to create a self-sustaining ecosystem. It encourages biodiversity, improves soil health and provides a habitat for beneficial wildlife. For residents of Vancouver Island, food forestry offers a way to engage with nature and contribute to local ecosystems, all while reaping the harvest.

Multifaceted Benefits

The benefits of edible landscaping and food forestry extend beyond mere aesthetics and food production. They represent a holistic approach to living that aligns with the values of health, sustainability and community.

Health Benefits: Gardening is a physical activity that can improve fitness, flexibility and strength. It also promotes mental well-being by reducing stress and anxiety. The fresh produce from these gardens provides a source of organic, nutrient-rich food, contributing to a healthier diet.

Environmental Benefits: These practices play a crucial role in environmental conservation. They support local pollinators, reduce the carbon footprint associated with food transportation and help in soil conservation.

Community and Educational Benefits: Edible landscapes and food forests provide opportunities for community engagement and education. They can become centres for learning about sustainable practices, local food systems and ecology.

Implementing in Your Yard

Start working with a pencil, not your back! Sketch your ideas before you touch a shovel. Plant culinary herbs close to your doorways and along pathways for easy and frequent harvesting. Build raised beds for vegetables in the sunniest place closest to your kitchen. Plant the tallest fruit and nut trees in the north, and progressively smaller species of berries, shrubs and groundcovers towards the sunny south, to make maximum use of solar energy. Instead of rows, consider branching patterns to maximize planting space. Ensure that all pathways lead towards something beautiful, to catch your attention and lure you in.

Lifestyle Choice

Edible landscaping and food forestry offer a sustainable, healthful and fulfilling way to interact with our environment. For the residents of Vancouver Island, it’s more than just a gardening trend; it’s a lifestyle choice that celebrates the connection between land, food and community. As we embrace these practices, we step into a world where our gardens are not just spaces of beauty, but also sources of nourishment and ecological harmony.