The Edible Landscape & Food in the Alley
The Edible Landscape Project:
I was inspired to develop the edible landscape project as a means to share and demonstrate ideas about growing food in small spaces. I also wanted to demonstrate how using native trees such as the Mesquite and Palo Verde would contribute to creating large canopies of shade and help to mitigate the heat-island effect.
I put together a team of colleagues who were committed to similar principles. They included Don Titmus, permaculture designer, owner of Four Directions PermaCulture; Eric Mytko, licensed landscape and irrigation contractor, owner of Life’s a Garden; Lou Werner, III and James Abner, partners at Eko Research, a research and development company for sustainable construction technologies. Lou is principal with Formwerks Studios architecture. My many friends at Desert Botanical Gardens, Greg Peterson, The Urban Farm. Ken and Lee Singh – Singh Farms provided valuable insight and materials over the years to make this project successful.
The entire property was reworked and new soil beds added. Fruit trees and a variety of raised vegetable beds were planted along with mesquite trees, octopus agave, creosote and other medicinal native plants. A water harvesting cistern, swales, boulder outcroppings and a xeriscape drip system were added along with an herb garden.
This site specific installation/landscape design explores the importance of local food production in a functional, aesthetically pleasing environment.
Wise teachers from all lands suggest that the best way to assist the people and provide for their security is to concentrate on building a healthy economy. It is essential to provide seeds, healthy soil and fertilizer and native plants to the people until they can become self-sufficient and productive.
Opportunities for training would help people master the trades associated with growing and harvesting. Manual labor would be respected. The innate vitality of a culture belongs to the world of nature because it occurs spontaneously. Self-reliance builds confidence and pride. Cities prosper when people share, learn and nurture one another while sharing the foods they have grown. The sculptural aspects of plants and other outdoor elements provide creative expression to a space. Much of our livable, growable space is unattended. Reclaimed and up-cycled concrete from a torn up driveway become benches in the garden. Left over wood, metal lathing and mesh become a chicken coop. It is all about finding lasting solutions to poverty and injustice through the appreciation of green living and art as the catalyst.
Food in the Alley:
After I had exhausted all of my useable garden space, I felt like as though I still needed more. I was looking around & noticed... There's a whole lot of space in the alley! I began this exciting journey, only one foot behind my fence. At first the soil was rocky & flaky, but with patience, dedicaiton, & some compost, it's now a lushish, thriving culinary adventure, with lettuces, tomatoes, even sugar cane! Sunflowers especially love the southern exposure to the sun. I look forward to many years of growing food that I can share openly with my neighbors, or anyone walking down the alley.