Imagine walking into a public park and being able to pick apples and berries and other native grown goodies and have your own picnic! This edible landscaping, integrated with ornamental foliage, not only creates a beautiful atmosphere but is also practical – particularly in urban areas where arable land is already at a minimum. Imagine every public place with food for everyone!
Cucumbers and onions at the Chicago Botanical Garden (above)
Just such an idea is being implemented in Blackhawk Garden Park in Davenport Iowa. The land 9 acre site is owned by the city after the homes there were removed due to it’s flood-prone location. Chris Rice is spearheading the edible forest project and has provided 100 plants including gooseberry, hazel nut, juneberry, elderberry plants and English Walnut Trees from seed and cuttings on his own property. Rice hopes to not only provide the public with free produce but to also educate people so they may someday begin to plant their own nourishing gardens that can be perpetuated by the next generation.
Rice has kept to native fauna because the introduction of non- native species can upset established eco-systems of the area and cause damaging effects. Planting native trees and veggies also have the added benefit of not needing much maintenance.
Rice’s project is a great example of the implementation of native edible plants into vacant spaces in communities. If communities planted edible bushes and trees instead of purely adding ornamental plants to public areas, people would begin to have an interest in the benefits of edible landscapes and growing food. Black Hawk Garden Park is a step in the right direction.