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Why People Should Maximize Their Yards With Gardens and Edible Landscapes

How could a 25 square foot yard be transformed if it was turned into a garden? That was the first question Zach Loeks asked when he began writing his new book, The Edible Ecosystem Solution: Growing Biodiversity in Your Backyard and Beyond. He focused on why people should maximize their yards with gardens and edible landscapes to support the well-being of their own lives and the lives of those in their community. Today, we take an excerpt from The Edible Ecosystem Solution on the Loeks' opinion on how edible landscapes can improve our existence.

Excerpt from the Book

I have always been intrigued by ecosystems, whether woodlands, meadows, or the vast prairies that used to stretch across North America. If you are like me, an ecosystem becomes so much richer when it is edible and useful, such as fruit and nut forests, berry meadows, or prairies full of medicinally useful plants.

And the concept of the micro-ecosystem! It’s a rich idea that an entire ecosystem can be found within a small space. An entire ecosystem in just 25 square feet. Imagine! And, when you plant an edible ecosystem, all the benefits of the landscape-scale ecosystem also exist within your micro-landscape. We should be planting more than just gardens. We should be planting edible ecosystems! These provide fresh fruits, berries, and herbs, as well as societal services like air, water, and soil production and purification. Ecosystem landscapes are spaces of rejuvenation, community well-being, and life support, and every spot can contribute directly, right where we live. They even serve to enrich a microscopic ecosystem—inside us! We are living ecological beings.

After all, human existence is a story of living surrounded by diverse, edible, and useful ecosystems. Our minds, bodies, and nervous systems evolved within ancestral, wild ecosystems, and we still benefit from their goods and services. Biodiversity is well-known to have been key to human success and remains so for modern societal resilience. A garden can be designed as a piece of true human habitat.

A small garden is something anyone, anywhere, can get growing; and together, these many small spots would create immense ecosystem services for society. All the skills needed for gardening success could be extrapolated from a single spot—to fill a yard, a community, or beyond. This is a modular way of inspiring and acting for greater change. There is beauty in the simplicity of small beginnings—transitioning one spot and then leveraging it to assist in the transition of more community spaces. After all, there is so much underutilized greenspace in our communities that is ready for ecological abundance.

pen and ink drawing ofpeople walking, trees, flowers, birds and wildlife

Consider how everyday people can make positive community change in this approachable and achievable manner. Envision your community, and put a foot down on one spot of yard to get going. Your little spot’s possibilities are endless: from berries, fruits, and herbs to pollinator habitat and flowers for beekeeping; from new shade trees with abundant mulberries to native prairie restoration and agrobiodiversity conservation. These settings are points of conservation and conversation, places of ethics and activism, and spaces of sanctuary and healing—one bit of ecosystem to stand tall in the face of the degradation of our wild ancestral landscapes and upholding the resilience of our society in these uncertain times. Our beginnings could have far-reaching edible ecological ripples with a bit of inspiration, education, and plant propagation. This book, The Edible Ecosystem Solution, is about designing edible micro landscapes that serve to enrich your life, but they are also starting points for immense community land transition. By transitioning land in our communities, people change. When people are surrounded by the sights, smells, flavors, textures, and experiences of our ancestral world, there is a subtle and powerful shift in the community. When people change, our culture is transformed. We begin to find profit from the land, building a truly green economy—from the ground up. We understand ecosystem goods and services and support them directly through stewardship. We orient around the seasons and celebrate their bounty and plan for their scarcity. We are healthy, happy, and productive. We become an ecosystem culture. If this has interested you, we’re excited to be giving away a copy of Zach Loeks’ new book, The Edible Ecosystem Solution: Growing Biodiversity in Your Backyard and Beyond! The giveaway starts on December 17th on our Facebook and Instagram. The winning question will be featured in our author interview blog the week following.

If this has interested you, we’re excited to be giving away a copy of Zach Loeks’ new book, The Edible Ecosystem Solution: Growing Biodiversity in Your Backyard and Beyond! The giveaway starts on December 17th, 2020 on our Facebook and Instagram. The winning question will be featured in our author interview blog the week following.

About the Authors

Zach Loeks author photo

Author Zach Loeks

Zach Loeks is an award-winning educator, designer, author, consultant, and grower who specializes in Edible Ecosystem Design around the world. He is the director of the Ecosystem Solution Institute and author of The Permaculture Market Garden. He lives in Cobden, Ontario.

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