Our relationship with food
Foodscaping, edible landscaping or edible gardening is becoming ever more popular around the Western world, especially here in the UK.
As the negative effect our food production has on the planet becomes more apparent, people are becoming more aware that our current model for sustaining food is also having this impact on our health.
Additives in our food like Aspartame, which is used to sweeten products in place of sugar, and Xenoestrogen from packaging are starting to cause some serious health issues.
People have put their trust into people and companies who’s main goal is profit. This is especially apparent when we look at the trend of weight gain across society.
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Food is not entertainment, it is not just a product for your taste buds. We are what we eat. Whilst we all enjoy a treat, we have become a nation who ‘nourishes’ itself on treats.
This lifestyle is leading to quite astounding figures regarding the development of diabetes & cancers.
Food is nutrition, your food is where the body gets its resources to build and maintain itself, things like the cells that make up your vital organs. Good nutrition is essential for the human body to survive & develop positively.
Growing your own and cooking home meals is the best way to deliver those resources to your body.
How do I start my DIY edible garden?
Starting your DIY edible garden doesn’t have to be a huge project. You can ease your way in with a small herb garden on your windows sill, or just grow a few of your favourite tomatoes.
As with anything, the best thing to do is to get started, its a good idea to plan and implement larger projects. However, I find this can lead to a great amount of procrastination so sometimes the best thing to do is to get stuck in!
Once you start the ball is rolling and you will start to learn and figure out whats needed. As time moves on, you may find your inner farmer! In which case you will want to get stuck into your new found lifestyle. To really get going on a project like this you will need a few things;
- An idea of what, where and how you want to grow
- An area to grow in (indoors or outdoors)
- A farming method (like pallet gardens or vertical farming)
Once you have an idea of these 3 things, you can start to plan, build and grow your first edible produce! Contrary to popular belief, maintaining an edible garden can be relatively little work once it’s going.
There will be learning curves along the way with successes and failures, but this is all a part of the process. With some consistency and elbow grease you will have a good amount of food throughout and at the end of the harvest year.
What do I need to start foodscaping?
In this section we will cover what you will need at a beginner level, in an allotment style setup that can be achieved in any outdoor garden. We will cover other methods more specifically, later in the year.
To start your edible garden you will need;
- A sunny location for your plot
- Good soil or growing medium
- A sustainable & manageable area for growing
- Your choice of vegetable seeds (Good quality seeds)
Having chosen what you want to grow whether its herbs, fruit or vegetables. It is a good idea to do some research on each of the plants requirements.
You will need to take into account the amount of space each plant needs to grow, what type of soil it prefers, what is the best time of year for them and how much water do they need.
Each species will vary slightly so its a good idea to organise them into groups that have similar requirements. This is generally termed as companion planting, there are certain species that benefit from each others presence like beetroot and broccoli.
Companion planting is more akin to how vegetables would have grown in the wild, it improves flavor, reduces pests and increases yield. There are some very useful companion planting guides on the internet. It is something I will be experimenting with & writing about in my first foodscaped garden this year.
Once planted, keep a log of your plants and when you’ve tended to them. Recording things like when the plants are watered or fed can be handy information if you run into any issues that need diagnosing.
But growing vegetables is so much effort!
Growing an edible garden is something that can be done by everyone. Its not complicated and there are a multitude of different methods out there.
If growing space is an issue there are methods like vertical gardening, a technique that is great even if you don’t have a garden!
Edible gardening is a great way to bond with friends or family, and its an activity that results in something that can be enjoyed together too – food!
Growing your own food will improve your physical, mental and social health. Not only will it look after you & your family, in turn you can reduce your overall carbon foot print & negative environmental impacts. What are you waiting for? Go and get the shovel!
What is “foodscaping” (aka edible landscaping)?
Foodscaping, also known as edible landscaping or edible gardening is the use of your personal garden, for the growth of food. These techniques can also be used to similar effect in public spaces, where local communities or councils may allow the use of public space for growing food.
We have one such initiative, ‘The incredible edible Hoylake’ team around my local area!
Around where I live members of the community work to maintain some grow boxes that would otherwise be used for flowers. In these they grow all manners of food & herbs, all free to pick when ready. Anything that isn’t picked, is harvested and moved on.
There is no limit or maximum to producing your own food. You can grow a surprising amount of produce even in the smallest of spaces. If you have some spare room that gets a decent amount of sunlight, indoors or outdoors you can grow.
You can employ methods like vertical farming, keyhole gardens, pallet gardens and you can even produce a good amount of food in a square foot garden!
Why should I get into foodscaping?
Growing your own food has health & nutritional benefits, it is also good for your mental and physical health. Foodscaping is also good for the environment in that it helps reduce your carbon footprint.
A large amount of our individual and collective carbon footprint is created by our food its production, also how its packaged and then disposed of.
From outsourcing our food cultivation to foreign countries and the emissions from the transport involved, to the machinery needed to ‘recycle’ the waste from the food we consume; a large negative environmental impact is created.
By ‘growing your own’ we can collectively reduce this damage, in turn creating a healthier planet & a healthier ‘us’!
Foodscaping in Geneva Switzerland, the home of edible landscaping!
So where does ‘Foodscaping’ come from? Is it a new thing? Isn’t it just farming? Edible landscaping is something humans have done for a very long time all over the world.
Yes, it is essentially farming. Over time, as society has developed we have assigned some very defined roles within our cultures. One of those defined roles is food production.
Whilst this is not a negative thing, as it has allowed people to free up time for other human endeavours in general. It is something that has led to our current food industry.
Its and industry that has become a money machine with very little conscience. This current model is responsible for many global environmental & economic problems such as chemical run off & ousted communities for farm lands.
In Switzerland, foodscaping is not a new or strange phenomenon. It is however becoming ever more popular there too. In certain, forward thinking communities they have started to explore a more eco friendly way of life. In the suburbs of Geneva there are communities who reside in eco friendly housing & they substituted their lawns for food growth.
Switzerland is not the only country to have ‘Food aware’ citizens. Other countries in Europe that have a healthy growing community are Bulgaria, Sweden & France.
In many countries it is seen as something that is only done in times of economic hardship. While still being able to feed yourself during economic turmoil is not a bad thing, it is also not the only reason to start foodscaping your garden.
Turing your garden into a food producing paradise has long term positive environmental and personal effects, it is something we in the UK should be embracing. As a green thumb nation who loves its allotments, we have the capacity and work ethic to really make this positive change in society.