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An Edible Landscape Near Downtown Albuquerque

Sandra Pederson shows off her edible landscape at her 5th Street home near downtown Albuquerque.

Landscaping can be used not only to beautify the urban environment, but also as a source of food. Edible landscaping is increasing in popularity as urban dwellers look for new ways to grow food while at the same time beautifying their yards. I visited the yard of one Albuquerque resident to learn more.

To increase the functionality of her yard, Sandra Pederson uses both ornamental and edible plants in her landscaping. This makes her yard not only pleasing to the eye, but also pleasing to the palate.  

In the front yard there are beans and other climbing vegetables growing up the walls, taking full advantage of vertical gardening space on urban structures. Tomatoes and other crops are planted in beds alongside roses and other flowers, and there are also a few raised beds with vegetables such as asparagus, squash, and cabbage. Sandra even harvests the prickly pear fruit from the native cactus along her sidewalk, with which she makes jam. The backyard landscape consists of grape vines, fruit trees, potted tomatoes, and a small greenhouse. There is also a variety of ornamental plants, and her backyard ducks and chickens provide plenty of eggs.

Using a small space between the driveway and a fence, this wall of beans is highly productive.

Sandra and many others across the US are switching  from the idea that the front yard is for ornamental growing and that backyards are for vegetable gardens. Front yard food production can create a green and inviting yard while inspiring passersby at the same time. "Most of our garden is in the front yard so the neighborhood has been able to enjoy the growth stages as well. Many comments have been made (from neighbors), and I hope the garden has encouraged them to put in a garden next year."

I asked Sandra why she chooses to landscape in this way and what benefits she gets from it.

"It has always been for me a high sense of joy to see something grow, produce, and then be able to consume it. You know what you have added to the soil, what you have put on the plant directly, and that what you eat is pure, fresh, and unadulterated. Our garden production has been excellent. I have only needed to buy meat and milk since spring. It has saved us lots of money and has given us, in return, great joy."

Feeling inspired? If you are already an avid backyard grower, try planting your front yard next year or mixing edibles with your ornamental plants to increase your food production. For those who are interested in growing food for the first time, Sandra offered some great advice.

"For the novice, I would suggest planting vegetables or herbs or both in your flower beds, along side the established flowers, or where you would normally add spring flowers. Vegetables and herbs are very beautiful and edible, as well. If there are no existing beds, make some and plant flowers and vegetables, or all vegetables. Or put vegetables and herbs in pots protected by a no-direct-sun area or under grey-colored shade cloth."

Thanks Sandra for sharing your yard and showing how vegetables, fruits, and herbs can beautify the urban landscape while providing fresh foods at the same time.




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