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2019-04-10 / Outdoor Life

Local Edible Landscaping Presentation

By Trish Tyrell

Incorporating images from personal projects through an information-packed presentation, Horticulture and Natural Resources Educator Carla Hegemen Crim, Ph.D. of the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Delaware County described the history, current trends, benefits, planning and planting involved in the creation of an edible landscape.

A cross between farming and landscaping, edible landscaping is the thoughtful arrangement of food-producing plants within a landscape for the purpose of maximizing their aesthetic appeal, production and resistance to pests.

Speaking to a group of almost 30 attendees at the event held in the Delhi Cannon Free Library on April 2, Hegemen-Crim began with a brief overview of the history of edible landscaping through the centuries, discussing the growing dependence upon external food resources over the past several decades and the interest in permaculture, food independence, and sustainability in recent years.

Modern movements in edible landscaping trends were described as including community gardens, urban agriculture, container gardening, and various permaculture practices. Birdsong Farm Community Garden, a partnership between the Lamson family and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Delaware County located on Route 10 near Delhi, was noted as a local example.

Enhanced social interactions, multiple health benefits and potential financial savings were listed among the many benefits outlined as a result of turning space, especially underutilized spaces like lawns and vacant lots, into food producing paradises.

Physical design considerations and edible plant recommendations made up the second half of the presentation. Perennials like nut and fruit trees, asparagus and various herbs are highly suggested given they provide a structure for any garden design and they produce food year after year. Garlic, kale, and nasturtium flowers were among the many edible annuals also listed.

Each participant was provided with a companion planting chart to further illustrate both the beneficial relationships between different plants, as well as those plants that do not get along well together. Ending with a couple surprises, like the fact that the Hosta plant is among the edible, attendees then offered multiple questions on how to handle various wildlife and insect pests, soil quality concerns, and whether marigolds do indeed deter insects.

When asked how one could get started in edible landscaping, Hegeman-Crim gave three pieces of advice: 1) start small, 2) mulch like crazy, and 3) grow from there. Beyond that, she also recommends joining your local garden club and seeking the counsel of your local cooperative extension.

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