Edible cities are becoming increasingly popular. Similar to the guerrilla gardening movement that has been around for some time, edible landscaping takes it even further, only in a more law-abiding direction. Whilst the former is the act of gardening on land that the gardeners do not have the legal rights to utilise, such as abandoned sites and roundabouts, edible landscaping is the planting of food-producing plants in residential areas. It combines fruit and nut trees, berry bushes, vegetables, herbs, edible flowers and other ornamental plants into aesthetically pleasing designs, encouraging residents, community groups, schools, businesses and the general public to get involved. The mission behind this is noble and positive: to increase awareness and actual levels of self-sustaining communities and educate in the importance of growing your own food, all while making neighbourhoods more attractive and strengthening communities.
Leeds is an especially good example of a city that embraces edible landscaping, and an excellent place to find out more is Feed Leeds. A network of over fifty individuals and organisations working to promote and support food growing in Leeds for its economic, social, environmental and health benefits, Feed Leeds is based across allotments, schools, community plots, parks, city farms and gardens. And it’s not just back gardens, as part of the initiative is to encourage gardening in front of your house as a means of gaining the attention and interest of passers-by.
Edible beds have a variety of uses, from ornamentation and ongoing workshops, to feeding the homeless and being available for private purchase. Home Grow Your Own, part of Feed Leeds, is a particularly effective project, as it’s dedicated to inspiring student and permanent residents around the LS6 area to start growing their own food by running a series of action days, providing participants with compost, planters and seeds, and guiding them from scratch. Meanwhile, Bedford Fields is a community forest garden in Woodhouse that has installed the Bedford Shed, a classroom right there on site. Participants have also made some hugel beds (long-term fertility raised beds), and now plan to create an edible landscape planting to screen the classroom from the south.
We highly recommend that you look into edible landscaping wherever you are. Whether it’s a small herb patch or an entire community garden of cabbages, carrots, parsnips and butter beans, you won’t regret the satisfaction you get from growing your own food.
To find out more, we recommend checking out the Incredible Edible Network.