click to enlarge

Joan Baron



The Edible Landscape, Food in the Alley, & The Childrens Museum of Phoenix Garden

The Edible Landscape Project:


I was inspired to develop the edible landscape project as a means to share & demonstrate ideas about growing food in small spaces. I also wanted to demonstrate how using native trees such as the Mesquite & Palo Verde would contribute to creating large canopies of shade & 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 & irrigation contractor, owner of Life’s a Garden; Lou Werner, III & James Abner, partners at Eko Research, a research & 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 & Lee Singh – Singh Farms provided valuable insight and materials over the years to make this project successful.

The entire property was reworked & new soil beds added. Fruit trees & a variety of raised vegetable beds were planted along with mesquite trees, octopus agave, creosote, & other medicinal native plants. A water harvesting cistern, swales, boulder outcroppings & 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 & provide for their security is to concentrate on building a healthy economy. It is essential to provide seeds, healthy soil, & fertilizer & native plants to the people until they can become self-sufficient & productive.

Opportunities for training would help people master the trades associated with growing & 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 & nurture one another while sharing the foods they have grown. The sculptural aspects of plants & other outdoor elements provide creative expression to a space.  Much of our livable, growable space is unattended. Reclaimed & up-cycled concrete from a torn up driveway become benches in the garden. Left over wood, metal lathing & 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, dedication, & some compost, it's now a lush, thriving culinary adventure, with lettuces, tomatoes, loofah, moringa trees, & 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.



Children's Museum of Phoenix New Permanent Garden Installation:


 Team: Laurie Lundquist - Wilco Art & Design

           Kevin Moore - Moore/Swick Landscape Ararchitect

           Joan Baron - Baron Studio

           Mark VanBlarcom - Gothic Landscape

 See Article Here - By Writer Hannah DeRespino

"This past weekend, the Children’s Museum of Phoenix opened an exciting new exhibit – The Children’s Garden. Kids of all ages are able to experience the joys of nature in an accessible, hands-on way.

The exhibit itself is designed in an immersive way, starting with the design of the grounds with seven different planting beds forming the central garden arranged to resemble a leaf. And another wheelchair-accessible bed that is in a similar organic shape. An interactive water pump allows kids to help irrigate the gardens and grow vegetables, herbs, flowers and fruit trees.

Parents and caregivers can bring children through on their own, or in a guided experience with a program facilitator. Children will ‘feel the dirt in their hands and the trickle of water on their toes while interacting with the garden components.’ The exhibit hours will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m."

8325 E. Monte Vista Rd.

Scottsdale, AZ 85257


Studio and group visits by appointment.

Another site by AD HAUS