In the United States, the average meal travels 1,500 miles from farm to table. As a result, many modern fruits and vegetables are bred not for flavor or nutrition, but to be tough enough to withstand these long transport distances. For this reason, many Americans are eating food that is less fresh, less tasty, and less healthy than the food our ancestors ate. The long transport distances also add significantly to the carbon footprint of the meal.
A growing number of Americans are seeking to reduce their carbon footprints, improve their health and eating habits, and rediscover the culinary pleasures of old-fashioned tomatoes, strawberries, and other foods by growing their own. However, with many people several generations removed from the farm, not everyone has the skills necessary to grow their own food at home. There is a growing market for professional edible landscapers and gardeners who can help would-be gardeners learn the skills they need to get started, or take care of vegetable gardens for families to busy to tend their plots themselves.
What Do Edible Landscaping Services Do?
There is a wide variety of services edible landscaping services can offer.
For most professional edible landscapers, edible landscape design, consultation, and maintenance form the basis of their business. Modern edible landscape design is rarely limited to traditional bed-style vegetable gardens. Instead, many edible landscapers seek to incorporate edible annuals, perennials, trees, and shrubs into the landscape as ornamentals, in order to create a garden both functional and beautiful. Many edible landscapers also aim to create truly sustainable, eco-friendly landscapes that conserve water and provide habitat for beneficial insects, birds, and other wildlife, as well as food for human residents.
Edible landscapers typically put a much greater emphasis on education and sharing skills than traditional landscapers or yard maintenance services. Many offer workshops or classes to teach gardening skills, while others focus on teaching individual clients the skills they’ll need to grow their own food.
Some edible landscapers also operate nurseries growing heirloom vegetables and fruits suitable for the local region, organize seed swaps, manage CSAs or community gardens, and other services. Some offer more traditional landscaping services, such as organic lawn care, as well.
Three Edible Landscapers Growing Food, Not Lawns
All Edibles is a San Francisco Bay area edible landscaping service that focuses on creating beautiful and productive landscapes in small spaces. All Edibles uses organic, water-wise techniques such as composting and drip irrigation to make each garden as sustainable and self-sustaining as possible.
Veggiescapes is a Boulder, CO-based edible landscaping service that offers custom design, installation, and maintenance services for edible landscapes, as well as “garden-sitting services” for vacationers and special packages for local restaurant owners and clients interested in starting a home orchard. Veggiescapes also operates a local pick-your-own-produce farm in nearby Longmont.
Bountiful Backyards, located in Durham, NC, offers a variety of edible landscaping and permaculture services, including customized design and installation of edible landscaping packages such as a permaculture-style herb spiral, a berry patch, or their Jumpstart Special, which includes a 400 square foot vegetable garden and berry patch. Bountiful Backyards also offers rainwater catchment system installation and a variety of workshops on a diverse selection of topics, including worm bins, beekeeping, fungiculture, and rain gardens.