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Are ‘Edible Landscapes’ the Future of Public Parks?

In downtown Detroit, Lafayette Greens is an urban garden and public green space where visitors can watch live music, enjoy local art installations, and take community yoga classes, all while watching butterflies flit from plant to plant. (Raymond Boyd/Getty Images)

Green spaces planted with fruits, veggies and herbs are sprouting across the globe, and the bounty is meant to share

By Emily Matchar
November 16, 2020


A growing movement of gardeners, food activists, landscape designers, urban planners and others is encouraging us to think “edible” when it comes to public green space. Flowers are pretty, they say, but if those blossoms become apples or zucchini, isn’t that even better?

“Public food landscapes can transform public spaces from being passive scenes to view or experience at a relatively superficial level,” says Joshua Zeunert, a landscape designer and professor at the University of New South Wales in Sydney who studies edible public spaces.

By “public food landscape,” Zeunert means food-producing land fully accessible to the public that is intended to be used for public benefit. This could include community vegetable gardens, public parks with “edible forests” of fruit and nut trees, public university campuses with agriculture projects that benefit the community and neighborhood centers with food-producing green roofs.

These types of spaces are not all new, Zeunert says. For example, the First and Second World Wars brought a brief fashion for community victory gardens, where parks were turned over to food production to aid the war effort. These tended to disappear when the fighting ended. But recent years have brought a wide variety of edible landscapes, from tiny curbside herb gardens to enormous urban agriculture projects.

Read the complete article here.