Urban Farming

An Edible Landscape For Children

When Kirk and I first moved to Maple Valley, one of the things that drew us out here (in the early 2000’s) was close proximity to the mountains and hiking. It wasn’t farming I can tell you! Our oldest son and I were out hiking 2 to 3 times a week, often on backpacking trips. It wasn’t until we had more children after 2010 that I started gardening again. With little ones I couldn’t get away like I had in the past, so I found my old love of growing things. I was outside, and it felt rewarding to work in the soil.

When we had bought that house, it was heavily landscaped and I proceeded to ignore it for the first 6 years of living there. When we started culling out plants, to make the yard children friendly, I realized quickly nothing in it was an edible landscape. More so, much of it was poisonous for children and animals (this is shocking for many to find out those innocent looking landscaping plants are not safe). Rhodies were ripped out, Holly pulled and many, many bulbs were dug out (over repeat years I might add). We also pulled out a pond, as we felt it wasn’t safe with toddlers.

The last few years in the house we had a little oasis for the kids to play in – and nibble if they pleased.

Does one need a lot of land to do this? Not at all. Even in an apartment, with a tiny deck, one can have plants for the children. The smallest lot with only front landscaping, it is easy to hide blueberry bushes in the landscaping and quietly replace those plants that produce nothing. Intertwine in strawberry plants. In the backyard, add in a few plants with golden raspberries (they don’t need to have support, and grow vertical).

This was literally the start of what we do now. By putting out plants, I learned so much. At first, I only used the corner, along the fence.

Our little property wasn’t big, but we made it work. We dug up part of the small yard. The boys could wander through it, as it grew.

 

Walker loved in his 3rd and 4th years to wander around, looking for tasty treats. Kale wasn’t one of them he found out ­čśë

And maybe find a tiny and tender summer squash –

When we sold the house and moved to our current location, it was pleasing to know we could walk into a near clean slate, and begin again. The first year here we removed all contractor special trees (most of which were very unhealthy due to the poor soil). With that done, we removed ornamental shrubs and other items. Thankfully, for the size of our property the previous owners were not inspired, and hadn’t overly planted.

Even in the first year we started dropping in blueberry and evergreen huckleberry bushes, and golden and red raspberry canes. By the second year, the gardens went in, and the fruit trees.

When you add in areas, make a spot just for children. Walker, our middle son, has planted a blueberry bush in his, with strawberry plants. It is decorated with a little fence, landscaping rocks and garden gnomes/gnome village. He tends to it and it is his only, he will tell you! Alistaire, our youngest, tends to his carrots, in a separate bed.

Because everything is edible, I don’t worry about them roving in the yard. They know they can eat whatever they pick. This coming Spring we will have been here 4 years, and it is rewarding to know we have built this.

~Sarah

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