Edible Landscaping


About Edible Landscaping

According to the Davis Permaculture [WWW]Users' Group, in its most simple connotation, edible landscaping is the planting of anything that can be eaten, from a fruit-bearing tree in the backyard to rosemary planted on the street median. On this level it can be synonymous with gardening – a traditional annual-based garden is an edible landscape. Usually, however, edible landscaping refers to a slightly more complex assortment of functions, namely edibility and aesthetics. Edible landscaping is one major component of permaculture design where the emphasis is usually on perennial plants. At its most complex, edible landscaping might not even be recognized as such, as in the case of the Amazon rainforest or pre-conquest California. Neither landscape was recognized by European explorers and settlers as having been intensively managed by their native inhabitants see [WWW]Toby Hemenway’s article), but in truth this was exactly the case to the extent that some plant species even evolved to succeed with the presence of human cultivation. UCD professor M. Kat Andersone’s “Tending the Wild” is an in-depth study of different cultivation techniques used by native Californians, including planting, pruning, and harvesting techniques that encouraged plant growth and diversity, as well as fire management and deliberate creation of habitat and browse areas for other species. Her book is an important resource for those who want to consider the interface between native plants and the people who live with them in California.

In Davis, edible landscaping ranges from the periodic occurrence of purposeful plantings (like the fig and pomegranate trees in front of the Davis Food Co-Op) to more systematic attempts (like the olive trees along Russell Blvd). Though it’s questionable whether the olive trees were originally intended to provide their fruit for any purpose, they’re now being harvested and pressed into olive oil. See [WWW]http://www.ucdavis.edu/spotlight/0405/extra_virgin.html . On campus there is another example of edible landscaping in front of the Plant and Environmental Sciences building, where the grounds division has planted some winter crops such as chard and onions ([WWW]http://www.dateline.ucdavis.edu/dl_detail.lasso?id=9049), after the summer’s plantings of tomatoes and bell peppers. Along Russell Blvd. (west of Hwy 113) the street is lined with black walnuts, a native tree, and taken even a step further, many of the oaks in town produce acorns that could be processed and eaten.

Usually, however, designs for edible landscapes rely on ‘exotics’ (simply non-native to the region in which they’re being planted) and there are extensive lists of plants utilized by people in different regions. A very interesting site is related to a well-known book on Permaculture gardening, called “Plants for a Future” by Ken Fern. The [WWW]website provides information on a great variety of plants, many of which might be new to Davis gardeners – though that may be because they don’t grow well here more than a lack of publicity. This same information is indexed in the back of the book, and is a great resource. There are books available on edible landscaping – some at the public library, and some at the UCD libraries. “Designing and Maintaining Your Edible Landscape Naturally,” by Robert Kourik has a section on the landscaping of Village Homes (with pictures taken when the trees were still small which makes for an interesting contrast to how it looks now).

An openness to the concept of edible landscaping can lead to a great benefit – free food! Imagine being able to forage for raspberries on a late spring day, or being able to go outside in the morning and choose herbs for tea, or harvesting fruit for preserves right from your yard . If you like what you imagine, maybe it’s time to landscape with edibles!

The Outside Magazine Article about Davis brings up the concept of "edible landscaping" employed in some areas of the city. This refers to the "community vineyards and orchards yielding grapes, persimmons, cherries, almonds, and peaches".




See Also

Here's the start of a list of some edible landscaping plants:


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something that could help make this page semi unlame would be the edible landscaping for transients that caused a stir ala toad tunnel —Daubert

With careful planning, it is possible to [WWW]harvest from your garden and landscape year around. —DonShor

2010-02-11 12:00:23   If anyone's feeling motivated, some of the pages for various herbs, fruit, and so on could probably use some cross-linking where appropriate. I'll try to get to it later, but I've already spent longer than I should. —TomGarberson

2011-03-17 12:26:44   A new business has come about in Davis called Edible Backyards. The specialize in building raised garden beds with edible plants. Very cool! www.ediblebackyardsCA.com —brendanjanet

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