What we're all about...
We believe that where there is abundance, there is beauty, and where there is healing, there is peace.
Lets make this world of our visions, our reality.
Why Edible Perennials
Edible and Medicinal Landscaping is one the most immediate ways individuals can directly create social and environmental transformation. Imagine stepping out of your front door to be greeted by a bounty of nuts, fruits, berries, herbs, and vegetables, spatially balanced and easy to maintain. This is a vision that is amazingly easy to achieve.
Changing the current agricultural paradigm begins by planting gardens and farms that generate and sustain fully balanced ecosystems that provide an abundance of food, medicine, and fiber (material, firewood, etc...), while allowing diverse life to thrive.
What is ‘Perennial’?
Here in northern climates, perennial plants, in short, continue to live from year to year. This is in contrast to annual plants, like zucchini or beets, which grow for one season only, produce their seeds, and then die. Some perennials—known as herbaceous perennials—deceivingly die back every fall, yet their root systems live through the cold winters, allowing the plant to re-sprout in the spring, such as rhubarb or asparagus.
Other plants, such as blueberries or hazelnuts, simply loose their leaves in the autumn, while the woody part remains standing through the winter. Most trees and shrubs follow this sort of perennial growth habit. And there are still other types of perennials—enough to fill every sort of environment that nature’s bounty can sustain!
A mature Eco-system in nature consists almost entirely of perennial plants.
For this reason, perennial-based edible and medicinal landscaping is so important, and so revolutionary (for our modern times). Imitating and creating nature whenever possible is one of the key principles when designing and implementing a food and medicine landscape. Mustering up the best of human ingenuity, many people are now rediscovering that we can utilize perennial plants to create landscapes that can transform any piece of land into a living ecosystem, while simultaneously providing an abundance of the best quality food and medicine.
How does it work?
Picture a walk in the woods.
Forests are made up of several layers: a canopy, an understory, and a groundcover. That basic principle of nature can be applied on any scale, even your front yard. It could consist of a symbiotic Eco-system as simple as an apple tree (canopy), raspberries (understory), and strawberries (groundcover). Or it can become as complex as a Hickory tree, Hazelnuts, a Plum thicket, Gooseberries and Currants and Blueberries, Mint and Echinacea, with Wintergreen and Strawberries as ground cover. Amazingly, this type of ecosystem is commonly found in the wild. These plants, in addition to creating a bountiful self-contained edible and medicinal landscape, also allow wildlife and all of nature’s gifts to co-exist in a symbiotic spiral of life.
There are literally thousands of different combinations of plants that could be planted within an edible and medicinal landscape to produce such balance. In addition to fruit, nuts, and berries, there are several different perennial vegetables that could supply nutrition throughout the entire season, eliminating need for tilling or replanting from year to year.
Eliminates need for poisonous chemicals:
Ecologically speaking, a diverse poly-cultural landscape ends the need for harmful synthetic chemicals that are so often applied in quantity to lawns and other forms of mono cropping. These chemicals, commonly derived from devices of war, are proven to be highly destructive to all forms of life—they have a direct link to declining Honeybee populations worldwide, and can be attributed to countless instances of poisoned landscapes, waterways, and communities. Implementing a food system that is free of these poisons is of the utmost importance for true long lasting sustainability. The key to such environments are their diversity and ecological balance.
Solves the Problems of Storm-Water Runoff:
Moreover, such landscapes absorb massive amounts of rainwater. This is especially significant and relevant given the escalating severity of storms in recent years, and the widespread flooding of streets and basements in our urban areas. Nature-centered landscaping greatly minimizes the amount of storm runoff. Unlike a lawn, which is essentially an impermeable surface equivalent to concrete, perennial plants have deep roots that take in and hold water, and a canopy of leaves that slows the rate of the percolation during heavy rains.
The Chicago metropolis, for example, channels all the rainwater off of houses, buildings, and lawns into the street, where it is then further channeled into a drainage system that flows to the nearest body of water, usually Lake Michigan or rivers that flow west into the Mississippi. By the time the water reaches the lake or river, it has traveled over a vast landscape of impermeable surfaces. As a result, huge concentrations of toxic materials such as lawn fertilizers and oil from vehicles are washed away in the runoff, causing beach closures, and an endless chain of disastrous ecological implications in downstream communities worldwide.
Planting perennial landscapes hugely reduces rainwater runoff, which in turn reduces beach closures, keeps basements from flooding, and protects downstream environments. Deep roots, combined with the continual supply of organic matter and mulch that such landscapes create for themselves, creates an ecosystem that can absorb even abnormally heavy rainfalls, as are becoming more and more frequent due to climate change. Through their inherited adaptation to severe northern climates, many of these perennials are also capable of withstanding long periods of drought, storing their needed moisture and nutrients underground.
Eliminates Tilling—Absorbs CO2:
Another significant aspect of a perennial food and medicine garden is the lack of tilling required. In fact, no tilling is necessary at all—other than the subtle natural tilling that occurs through the presence of wildlife and decomposition. This is in vast contrast to most modern, conventional gardening and farming practices.
All plants absorb the greenhouse gas Carbon Dioxide and store it underground in their roots. Whenever land is tilled a plume of CO2 escapes, and is released into the atmosphere. Planting perennial landscapes that mimic nature (that create nature), is one of the most sensible steps any food grower can take towards reducing the release of the greenhouse gas that contributes most to global climate change.
For urban dwellers, the short-term financial benefits are impressively self-evident. Investing in an edible and medicinal landscape eliminates the need to hire any sort of lawn maintenance company, whom often charge over $100 a week. Plus, the harmful tools used in conventional landscaping, such as lawnmowers and leaf blowers, are completely unnecessary in a perennial garden. The maintenance involved with a nature-based landscape is far less than in annual farming. This saves you valuable time, which can be spent on other endeavors, like making music, art, or writing!
Good for Wildlife:
Planting a perennial food and medicine garden is a great way to attract wildlife, such as butterflies, hummingbirds, honeybees, and other beneficial creatures! Most of the food we eat on a daily basis wouldn't have reached our plate without the pollination from busy honeybees and other pollinators. This is true for nearly all fruit and other vegetable produce.
There is also abundant wildlife that rely on various perennial plants for their species survival. For example, the Monarch Butterfly lays its eggs on Milkweed (Asclepias spp.), while it's caterpillars feed only on this plant. As most Midwesterners know, our rural landscape that was once made up of vast prairie and oak savanna, is now an endless stretch of monoculture fields made up of mostly corn, soy, and wheat. These monoculture fields have contributed to enormous loss of habitat for a huge range of species. Industrial agriculture has also literally mined our soil out of the Earth, and extracted all the essential nutrients that are so prevalent in the rich black gold of a perennial based ecosystem. This has led to an ever-escalating need for manufactured fertilizers and genetically engineered seeds.
For these reasons and many others, it becomes even more important to plant gardens full of flowers, shrubs, and trees that will serve as food and shelter for numerous threatened and endangered plants and animals, as well as humans. What sweet bliss it is to peer into your backyard and see butterflies fluttering, and hear the sweet singing of birds as they forage!
Perennial edible and medicinal landscaping is one of the single easiest and most direct ways individuals can influence the future of our planet in a positive and productive way.
It never breaks
And balance brings forth creation.
Create the world you see
The future in our hands..."
-Oak in the Heart