I didn’t grow up gardening. I didn’t even grow up liking vegetables. Sure, I would eat carrots and peas now and then, but I used to think tomatoes were just plain gross.
Everything changed the first time I tasted a tomato that I had grown myself. If you have ever tasted a homegrown tomato, you know what I’m talking about. They are incredibly flavorful. Now, after years growing our own, I can hardly bring myself to eat grocery store tomatoes. There are a few exceptions, but honestly, the majority of grocery tomatoes are mushy balls of water masquerading in a tomato suit. In fact, much of the fresh fruits and vegetables that line grocery shelves are pale flavorless renditions of what they could be (and should be).
Since purchasing our home, tasty food growing has become a passion and so has experimenting with landscaping and garden design: grape arbors over paver patios, espalier fruit trees, redwood raised beds, Belgian fence apple trees, and mixing in particularly ornamental edibles like artichoke and amaranth.
Designing foodscapes is creating art. Installing foodscapes in frontyards changes perceptions and sparks conversations with neighbors. By replacing grass with beautiful abundance we are saying that there are alternatives to mundane lawns and a food industry that offers us either pricey flavorless produce or cheap unhealthy nutrient-deprived food. We see frontyards as an opportunity to create a piece of living art that is a feast for both our taste buds and our eyes.
By 2017 we began seeing foodscaping as a mission to reconnect with where real food comes from and to inspire others to do the same. I completed the USU Extension Master Gardener program and began volunteering in gardens and teaching classes. I was looking for ways to help more people get started growing some of their our own food and had been thinking about different ways to help particularly people who might be interested in gardening, but are somewhat intimidated by getting started. After stumbling across an incredible Ted Talk by Ron Finley and learning about the volunteer group LA Green Grounds, Foodscaping Utah was born.
Foodscaping Utah is a volunteer group striving to help people transform their frontyards into beautiful foodscapes that grow a lot of food in small spaces. Other master gardeners and volunteers of all walks of life have joined up to help. Our group provides preplanning, volunteer help getting started with a small foodscape installation, and a few followup consultations. We hope to inspire a pay-it-forward tradition.
In our first year (2018), our volunteer group helped five families get started growing their own foodscapes (see Gallery), taught four classes, created eight educational videos, including videos on foodscaping a frontyard, installing drip irrigation, and pruning fruit trees. We also participated in the Weber Basin’s Spring Garden Fair, the Ogden Farmer’s market, and appeared on the KSL Greenhouse radio show. We have used our own frontyard as a demonstration foodscape showcasing the amazing beauty and abundance that can come from a small frontyard (Video: July foodscape tour).
We are hoping to begin 2019 by filing paperwork to become a registered 501(c)(3). We are selling t-shirts and hoodies to help pay for fees and initial accounting costs, which we estimate will cost around $500. Don’t miss the opportunity to get a Foodscaping Utah t-shirt and/or hoodie! Several color options are available. We are also accepting donations directly through our website.
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