The Free Press, Mankato, MN


July 21, 2013

Edible and environmental

Edible lawnscaping a sustainable, and flavorful, alternative to turf lawns


“Soil erosion is such a big concern, and living next to the river, you see it.”

She said recently reported concerns about the depletion of aquifers we rely on for drinking water also cause her to rethink how we live.

“I’ve come to the conclusion that our green lawn obsession is not only unsustainable, it’s also a bad idea,” she said. “Although grass holds the soil (in place), it’s a waste of water and our resources. We just have to do a more sustainable job of managing our soil and property.”

Norland is a relatively new convert to the idea of edible landscape. She started this year with a small plot by her mailbox, where she grows a tomato, eggplant, Swiss chard and some herbs. She hopes to expand next year, “but I’ll take it one step at a time,” she said.

Her inspiration for the idea hasn’t come from others in the community with edible yards. In fact, except for Church, she doesn’t know of anyone who is doing it locally.

“Not a single soul,” she said, adding that her inspiration comes from her parents, who were stewards of the land. “I grew up on a farm,.”

Norland also extols the virtues of composting.

“You take the remnants, and turn them into soil and fertilizer.” Compost is a soil amendment that both holds water in sandy soils, and loosens heavy soils, allowing water to drain, rather than pond.

For those who say they’d rather look at flowers than vegetable plants, Norland notes that many flowers are edible as well.

“Nasturtiums are very tasty,” she said, with a peppery flavor. Borage plants have blue flowers that taste like cucumber, along with the leaves, and okra is a member of the hibiscus family, with showy blooms.

Norland says a large part of her yard is too shady to support edible landscaping, but there are other ways to avoid mowing. She intends to plant and permit ferns to flourish on the north side of her house.

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