A few hundred years ago only royalty could afford to have gardens that didn’t produce food. After centuries spent on gardens that exist only for aesthetic value there is finally a movement towards arranging attractive and edible plants to produce spaces that are feasts for the eyes and the mouth.
Edible landscaping is a specialized form of gardening where your average, everyday ornamental plants are replaced with a variety of plants that have some food use. This style of landscaping has been gaining popularity in recent years as issues of resource conservation and sustainable living are becoming more visible and popular.
Ecologia founder (www.ecologiadesign.com) Michael Judd has spent nearly 20 years working throughout North and South America to promote edible and ecological landscape design. In Nicaragua his non-profit organization Project Bona Fide (www.projectbonafide.com) helps to develop solutions to provide food security and sustainable crops with higher market values in rural communities. In the USA Ecologia offers design consultation and installation of edible landscapes, rainwater harvesting and whole system farm design.
Inspired by the natural flow of the landscape, Ecologia works integrates its designs into the surroundings with Fibonacci inspired spirals, tiered rain gardens, dry stack stone terraces, earthen ovens and permeable drives and walkways. Ecologia is also famously responsible for the edible woodland garden at Frederick restaurant Volt where Chef Bryan Voltaggio can be be seen gathering herbs for his acclaimed culinary creations.
An important part of Ecologia’s approach to landscaping is rainwater and runoff management. Permeable hardscapes allow for passive irrigation of nearby plants. They lessen soil compaction and filters pollutants. A variety of designs and materials are used to create patios, walkways, driveways and garden paths.
Another approach to edible landscaping is the idea of a “food forest.” A food forest imitates the natural arrangement of a forest where multiple species of plants grow together symbiotically in close quarters. Rather than leaving a single fruit tree to defend itself in a sea of grass, the food forest approach produces a dense arrangement of edible plants and also allows the different species to build their own intimate and complimentary ecology.
Founder Michael Judd is also a lover of all things fungal and promotes the use of fungus to speed up habitat recover and building more fertile soil for projects. Using wood chips colonized by Wine Cap mushrooms to boost the growth of other plants can also provide a harvest of mushrooms to compliment the other plant species.
Using crowdsource funding through Kickstarter. com, Michael is publishing his first book, “Edible Landscaping with a Permaculture Twist“. The book serves as an introduction to all of the techniques, principles and materials involved in creating his distinctive edible landscapes. The book will be printed using 100% recycled paper and soy based ink.
Between food forests, permeable paths, edible landscaping, sustainable henhouses, holistic equine property design and charitable work in Central America, Michael Judd, Ecologia and Project Bona Fide are providing a wide range of services for Maryland locals and the world at large.