By Patricia Bianca S. Taculao

Landscaping is known as the art of altering existing natural features to create a structured result. Add farming practices to that and the knowledge and a practical approach to creatively growing food is born. This is known as edible landscaping (EL).

Ryan Rodrigo Tayobong, an assistant professor from University of the Philippines Los Baños-College of Agriculture and Food Science, defines edible landscaping as a practical and aesthetic way to grow food in the city while creating an eye-catching display.

He said that there are different elements that are involved in the practice.

“In edible landscaping, there are elements of crop production as well as landscaping. There should be proper planning, especially if the crops are seasonal and proper maintenance as with most landscape designs to keep the installation from deteriorating,” Tayobong said.

The practice can follow the usual methods used in vegetable farming, backyard farming, or the like. A significant difference, however, is that it uses landscaping approaches such as planning a strategic location and intercropping to maximize the available space for food production.

Crops that can be grown decoratively include lettuce, onion, cucumber, eggplant, chili, sweet potato, and more.

A secret to successful cropping is the selection of desirable varieties that possess characteristics such as high yield potential, resistance to pests and diseases, and adaptability to soil range and climatic conditions.

Tayobong warns that in order to sustain a growing area for food, the care should be as
tedious as with conventional landscaping.

“Edible landscaping installations need to watered and pruned regularly. Adding organic
fertilizer in the mix helps in boosting their yield but chemical pesticides should be avoided altogether,” he said.

Apart from the aesthetic advantage that comes with edible landscaping, Tayobong said that the concept promotes organic crop production at the comfort of one’s home and also provides a solution to the problem of underfed Filipinos.

“If every household practices small-scale edible landscaping, then hunger could be reduced, because vegetables and fruits would be readily available on the table,” Tayobong said.

Also, the involvement of children in EL may increase their interest in farming, as well as their consumption of vegetables and fruits.

“Edible landscaping promotes organic crop production and targets households, most of which have only small spaces available for cropping. This should result in the production of fresh and safe food for the family,” Tayobong said.

Tayobong is a guest speaker invited by the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) to conduct a free seminar on his field of expertise. There are other seminars scheduled for the second half of 2019 and are usually held at the ATI headquarters located in Quezon City.