Nashville Foodscapes founder Jeremy Lekich became fascinated with foodscaping when he started living in an eco-dorm at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. The dormitory had several green initiatives in place (including composting toilets), but most impressive to Jeremy were the beautiful – and edible – grounds that surrounded the building.
The foodscape around the dorm was based on a forest model, featuring a high diversity of plants that coexisted to sustain sizable quantities of edible and medicinal plants with minimal human interference. Seeing the natural systems being optimized for food production was a game-changer for Jeremy (a Biology major with a focus on plants), he decided to make it his career and brought his business back home to Nashville.
Jeremy and his small, dedicated team work diligently to inspire clients to look beyond rows and boxes and realize that a functioning edible garden can be beautiful, and beautifully integrated into the existing landscape. After doing a full on-site assessment to understand the existing shape and function of your land (including shade fall and natural water flow), they draft a garden plan that will yield a bounty of produce without creating a tireless round of upkeep for their clientele.
The work is described on their website as such:
Our services include design, implementation, and maintenance of a variety of foodscapes, from a garden bed to grow your favorite veggies to an integrated forest garden with fruit trees, fruit shrubs, vegetables, herbs, edible flowers and mushrooms, and more! Our designs integrate a wide variety of edible, medicinal, and useful plants that work together to feed our clients and the earth.
We believe that our practices and labor go beyond "sustainable" and "organic". Instead of creating spaces that just sustain, we strive to create systems that are regenerative to the earth, the community, and the individual person.
Jeremy hopes to integrate a small nursery into Foodscapes in the near future, allowing him greater quality assurance over his inventory, creating a foundation of local stock and ultimately cutting out the sizable shipping cost (both environmental and financial) needed for certain plants. He’s already making strides toward that goal by collecting clippings from shipped-in stock for propagation.
In this modern age, we have almost entirely lost the ability to feed ourselves from the ground up. Nashville Foodscapes’ is doing its best to help change that. Clients, for the most part, are eager to join in the work and get a better understanding of what’s being planted and why. What tincture or vinaigrette can you make from this plant? How does this shrub support the health of that tree? Jeremy recounted one client’s amazement that her children, who wouldn’t touch a salad before their foodscape was planted, are out in the garden almost everyday harvesting and snacking on the fruits and vegetables in their backyard.
There are similar foodscaping firms across the country, although you’ll have to do some research to find one in your area. I’ve found companies based in northern Alabama to Hawaii, although their approach to layout may differ considerably from Nashville Foodscapes’. Dig in and see if their service offering will fit your needs.
Nashville Foodscapes also offers a host of other services, including permaculture workshops and compost delivery (the compost is a special blend crafted by Jeremy and a local farmer, you won’t find it anywhere else).
It’s all an inspiring step in the right direction.
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