Just the phrase ‘food forest’ jumps out at a person. It sounds like it belongs in one of those whimsical adventure books we read as children. In California they’re coming to life in suburban backyards. A food forest is nothing more than an edible landscape. It is both attractive to look at and provides its owners with useful fruits and vegetables. Some land owners may even grow enough produce to sell the excess to their neighbors.
California residents who have been encouraged to make their ornamental gardens more arid friendly are compromising by planting edible gardens instead. Their landscapes become not only nice to look at, but completely useable. They are using both annual and perennial plants to spice up their landscapes and their taste buds. By planting plants that they can eat they can justify their use of water in their gardens and landscapes.
Some land-owners are taking their ‘food forests’ a step further and allow them to take over their entire yards. While economical and practical some cities are fighting homeowners who want to do edible landscapes in their front yards. Unfortunately, some cities like Orlando, Florida are fighting landowners on their edible landscaping claiming it doesn’t look as well as green grass.
It’s sad that Orlando’s mayor has taken this stance especially since one of the major’s platforms is promoting local food production and edible landscaping can be really beautiful. Fruits and vegetables come in a variety of shapes and colors. They can grow on beautiful bushes or graceful vines. Some fruits and vegetables are preceded by beautiful flowers. Many fruit trees can be trimmed to look positively ornamental in any yard. While still others leafy greens aren’t actually green! There are red and orange lettuce varieties out there that are very interesting to look at.
The only problem with the edible landscape is that certain aspects of the yard will have to be replanted on a yearly basis because many vegetables are annual plants. Despite this annoyance it does give the home owner the chance to change how their yard looks every year and in some cases even every season. Some plots in these landscapes may be able to hold two or three different types of plants through the growing season. They say variety is the spice of life and it could be what makes the edible landscape the most fun.
The mindset of the American people is that the ideal home has a yard full of green grass and it is going to take time to change that mindset, but if food prices go up these yards will become main stream. The fact that these ‘food forests’ are already trending is proof that the change is coming. Americans will change their behaviors based on their pocket book if nothing else. One day it might be hard to find a yard filled with grass because they’re all filled with lettuce instead. When that day arrives grass will become the weed that everyone is trying to get rid of!