The Edible Garden

Goodlifer: The Edible Garden

Long before E.O. Wilson gave the condition a name, humans — city dwellers in particular — have felt a need to somehow be close to nature. Wilson dubbed it Biophilia and we see it in everything from inner-city community gardens to high-priced condos with water views. To fulfill our need to have nature be part of our lives we build ponds in our yards, keep animals as pets and grow plants and flowers in our gardens.

This weekend, I ventured out to The New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. This was my first visit and I found a small paradise in the city, that I will be sure to visit again many times. The event that drew me to the NYBG was The Edible Garden, a summer-long celebration of growing great food. The description invites you to “through delectable exhibitions and mouth-watering programs, be inspired to grow, prepare, and eat garden-fresh produce, and understand how plants provide the food and drink essential to maintaining life and enhancing wellness.”

Flowers can be edible too.

Flowers can be edible too.

Sings with helpful tips for aspiring edible gardeners are posted throughout.

Sings with helpful tips for aspiring edible gardeners are posted throughout.

The incredible rise in popularity of local, organic food have given way to a new generation of gardeners, growing edible plants in their homes (t doesn’t get much more local than that!) If you are at all concerned about food safety (and if you have been reading about the scary stuff going on throughout our food system, you should be), growing your own food makes you able to control everything, from the ripeness and flavor down to the application of fertilizer and soil. No funny stuff anywhere.

I went on a beautiful day, and the gardens were quite crowded. Edibles to the people!

I went on a beautiful day, and the gardens were quite crowded. Edibles to the people!

Flower planting

Edible gardens can have amazing diversity.

Big garden means lots of compost.

Big garden means lots of compost.

Through twelve different edible gardens, The NYBG hopes to inspire people to grow, prepare, and eat garden-fresh produce and provide a deeper understanding of how plants provide the food and drink that are essential to maintaining life and enhancing wellness. The amazing programming features activities sure to delight foodies, gardeners, cooks, entertainers and health freaks, as well as the casual summer visitor. During two Festival Weekends, there will be celebrity lectures and demonstrations by food luminaries such as Dan Barber, Martha Stewart, Michael Anthony, Michel Nischan, Aida Mollenkamp, Rose Marie Nichols McGee, Johny Iuzzini, Peter Hoffman, Amy Goldman, George DeVault and Rosalind Creasy. Add to that seven Edible Evenings and a Farmers Market every Wednesday and Saturday and it should give you more than enough reason to make a trip out to the Bronx.

Green cabbage.

Green cabbage.

Incorporate plants with beautiful foliage and tasty fruit in your garden.

Incorporate plants with beautiful foliage and tasty fruit in your garden.

Martha Stewart's fragrant herb garden was a big hit among all ages.

Martha Stewart’s fragrant herb garden was a big hit among all ages.

Coriander & friends.

Coriander & friends.

Plant once, harvest again and again.

Plant once, harvest again and again.

Who says edible can't be beautiful?

Who says edible can’t be beautiful?

Edible flowers.

Edible flowers.

Harvest culinary herbs before they bloom for intense flavor.

For intense flavor, harvest culinary herbs before they bloom.

The NYBG offers daily Docent Tours during which you will discover the edible plants in the Garden’s landscape on guided plant tours of the grounds or the Conservatory’s Tropical Fruits, Roots, and Shoots exhibit. At 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, Sonia Uyterhoeven, Gardener for Public Education gives Home Gardening Center Demonstrations teaching you the ins and outs of vegetable gardening. Bring the kids too! In the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, there is a fun, hands-on program called Flower Power, where they can learn how flowers become fruit. They get to plant beans to take home, make pollinator puppets, and participate in a plant-part scavenger hunt, all demonstrating the life cycle of a plant and the pollination process.

On festival weekends, you can sample wares from various vendors by the conservatory. My faves: Swedish cider, wine slushies & raspberry gelato.

On festival weekends, you can sample wares from various vendors by the conservatory. My faves: Swedish cider, wine slushies & raspberry gelato.

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Although not edible, flowers around the botanical garden are a true feast for the senses.

Although not edible, flowers around the botanical garden are a true feast for the senses.

I guarantee you will be inspired, and if you feel like really digging your hands in the dirt, you can start with taking aone of NYBG’s Continuing Education Classes, where you will learn how to grow your own herb or vegetable garden. Another good option is to start helping out at a local Community Garden, the American Community Gardening Association’s website lets you search by zipcode to find the one closest to you. I went home hellbent on planting my own edible garden on the windowsills and fire escape of my Brooklyn apartment, but more on that later…

About author
A designer by trade, Johanna has always had a passion for storytelling. Born and raised in Sweden, she's lived and worked in Miami, Brooklyn and, currently, Ojai, CA. She started Goodlifer in 2008 to offer a positive outlook for the future and share great stories, discoveries, thoughts, tips and reflections around her idea of the Good Life. Johanna loves kale, wishes she had a greener thumb, and thinks everything is just a tad bit better with champagne (or green juice).
2 total comments on this postSubmit yours
  1. Beautiful, beautiful, I can practically smell the lavender. I have a recipe for Lavender Cookies, delicious…happy gardening 🙂

  2. The Edible Garden looks like a very nice inspiration for “homegrowers” and a very beautiful place. I`m sorry we couldn`t see it before we went home to Sweden.
    Perhaps next time……..
    I look forward to see pictures of your own edible garden in Brooklyn.

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