Learning from the Landscape

Cover_sum13_sEminent American food writer and long-time 
California resident, M.F.K. Fisher said, “First we eat, then we do everything else.” We all know the way to the heart is through the stomach, but I would amend that to say that if you really want to grab someone’s attention—head and heart—start with a delicious morsel. And when that mouthful also plays a role in the landscape, satisfies our love of beauty, and piques our intellectual curiosity, the garden quite literally springs to life and feeds us body and soul.

I didn’t set out to focus this issue around edible gardening. Instead, I wanted to take a look at ways in which the landscape serves as an instructional tool. It was only after our stories were all in hand that I realized that, in one way or another, food and nourishment was the thread that wove them together.

A park in the city teaches kids about nature while fostering the next generation of environmental stewards. Public gardens generously feed the community, show homeowners how to build beautiful, resilient low-input landscapes, and enhance the heady enjoyment of wine. Flowers, fruits, and vegetables are gaining sophistication in private landscapes designed to be both beautiful, productive, and support a vibrant matrix of living creatures. I love the notion of a garden as a banquet for birds. Even roses and lavender have culinary applications.

People, pollinators, and wildlife—I guess we’re all just looking for our next good meal.