Have you ever tasted a vine-ripe tomato from your own backyard? Holy cow! The flavor is unreal. The feeling of growing something delicious yourself is equally gratifying. What if we could grow all the fruits and vegetables we need – and then some – in our own backyard? What if, instead of traveling thousands of miles, our food only traveled a few steps to our dinner table? What if the food we chose to nourish ourselves with was more nutrient rich and beneficial for our health? This can be a reality with edible landscaping in Hawaii.
What is Edible Landscaping?
As defined by the Oregon State University Extension Service, Edible landscaping is the use of food-producing plants in the residential landscape. It combines fruit and nut trees, berry bushes, vegetables, herbs, edible flowers, along with ornamental plants into aesthetically pleasing designs. These designs can adopt any garden style and may include anywhere from 1 to 100 percent edible specimens.
The Benefits of Edible Landscaping
Why would you want to plant and maintain an edible landscape? From the outside, it might seem like a lot of work. If you don’t have a “green thumb”, it may even sound intimidating. However, with the right guidance and support, it’s possible to realize the benefits of edible landscaping, including:
- Enjoy fresh, fully ripened, nutrient dense fruits and vegetables.
- Improved health from eating fresh produce. Food = medicine.
- Eliminate toxic pesticides and herbicides used on commercial farms.
- Increase the food security of your family and community.
- Save money on grocery bills and medical bills.
- Grow unusual varieties of fruits and vegetables not available in stores.
- Spend time in nature, have fun, and get physical exercise.
- Support biological diversity with edible landscapes that attract pollinators and other beneficial species
Edible Landscaping in Hawaii
Hawaii is a a gardener’s dream and ideal location for edible landscaping. In the islands, we have a year round growing season with plenty of sunshine and rain – which means plants grow like crazy! Residents can take advantage of this fact by growing plants that give back – in the form of food. From mango, papaya, banana, pineapple and more, many delicious tropical fruits and vegetables can be grown here in Hawaii.
At Kuwili Lani, edible landscaping is at the center of our mission. Working in collaboration with Malama Aina Permaculture, our lots are specifically designed to support edible landscapes. We have a list of 52 varieties of edibles, totaling some 2,000 plants, trees, and bushes that are recommended for planting on the property. From avocado to citrus and everything in between, the idea is to create a constant source of nutrient rich, delicious food at Kuwili Lani! See our subdivision lot maps for a sample landscaping layout.
Of course, owners have the freedom to choose how much and what type of edible landscaping they want to incorporate on their property. The benefit of the Kuwili Lani community is that owners have the ability to work cooperatively with their neighbors. For instance, one owner might plant mangos, while another might plant breadfruit. The trees produce enough to share and neighbors can help each other at different harvest times throughout the year. This cooperative “barn raising” approach makes the work of maintaining an edible landscape manageable.
Resources for Your Green Thumb
There are many resources available for those that want to plant their own edible landscapes in Hawaii. Here at Kuwili Lani, we offer our owners advice and insight, from choosing what to plant, to maintenance, harvest, and more.
Here’s a list of additional resources for learning more about edible landscaping and growing your own food:
- Our friend Farmer D, an nationally recognized biodynamic farmer, edible landscape designer, educator and founder of https://www.citizenfarmers.com offers a wealth of resources on his website and in his book: “Citizen Farmers: The Biodynamic Way to Grow Healthy Food, Build Thriving Communities and Give Back to the Earth” . Also, don’t forget to check out his podcast!
- Our friends at Malama Aina Permaculture offer awesome classes and workshops on the Big Island of Hawaii near Kuwili Lani.
- The University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service is a wonderful resource for farmers and gardeners in Hawaii. https://cms.ctahr.hawaii.edu
- Soil testing in East Hawaii: https://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/uhmg/EastHI/soil-test.asp
- Natural, non-toxic pesticide and fertilizer: Neem Oil.
- Homemade, natural fertilizers: https://www.farmersalmanac.com/8-homemade-garden-fertilizers-24258
Have more questions about edible landscaping in Hawaii? Contact us! We are happy to chat more on this topic.