Walking A City Reveals Potential For Edible Landscapes

Our environments benefit from more edible landscapes, so author Zach Loeks is walking across Winnipeg multiple times to determine the city's potential foodscape future.

by Zach Loeks
PHOTO: Zach Loeks

I just recently walked across my the city of Winnipeg, 40 km from the south of the city to the north (almost 25 miles), right under the perimeter highway to start and over top of it to finish. 

I did this again a few weeks later, this time moving west to east. 

Finding Potential Foodscapes

Why would I walk across Winnipeg again? This walk, which is part of a cumulative action I’m taking, is meant to provide a look at food security in the city—in all cities, in fact, by reason of the similarities in our development of landscapes in urban and suburban areas.

I am looking at the potential for adding more foodscapes into our cities. I want to add more community gardens, more edible landscapes, more production of edible biodiversity and … well, just more food! 

 Part of this is assessing the current diversity of the city, its street trees and yard landscapes. It is also about assessing the current food projects that already exist: home gardens, edible yards (or “yardens”), community gardens and other small and large food landscape creations. 

Walking While Watching

Furthermore, I am looking at differences and similarities between communities. I want to learn how to build on their current infrastructure, underutilized green- and grayspaces, and angles of attack for transitioning the landscape to edible biodiversity. 

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Of primary importance is how we can connect neighborhoods together through edible corridors. By strengthening and creating new human-scale transit ways (walk, bike, e-bike, rollerblade, etc.) we make avenues for people to slow down and move naturally through the city. 

We are also making ideal and fertile ground for edible hedges along these green transit routes. We can connect these narrower edible landscapes to the fragmented, but no less ideal, underutilized rectangles and squares and triangles of greenspace, which can be turned into larger community gardens, food forests and berry meadows. 

A Nutritional Need

The need to do this in the city is great, and the power of rural allies in the work is immense. It would be straightforward to transition many of these spaces using not just landscape techniques but also the skill sets of market gardeners, permaculture designers and edible landscapers. 

Equipment like two-wheel tractors and hand tools (such as bed row markers) would be ideal. Techniques like zipper beds and overall edible ecosystem design will be the best fit for these spaces. 

 Stay tuned as I continue to survey and create designs for transitioning urban areas to food security!

Grow On,


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