When I opened this old National Geographic, I was expecting to find something like a time capsule, an endearing snapshot of how limited human understanding was forty years ago. I definitely didn’t anticipate finding anything that really applied to modern environmental movements. But as I read Euell Gibbons’s "Stalking the West's Wild Foods," an account of his family’s quest to survive off wild plants in the American Southwest, I was struck by how little has changed--at least as far as people like Mr. Gibbons go.
The first time I saw an “edible garden,” two years ago in southern Sweden, I remembered being kind of underwhelmed. The family I was visiting with a friend had built a summer home entirely off the grid, which was pretty cool: Hydroelectric, wind, and solar panels powered the whole house, and a sauna in the backyard was completely self-sufficient.
All images via National Geographic.
Our host showed us around the house, and took us out back to the garden to show us how everything planted there could be consumed in one way or another. I was confused and, at the time, couldn’t really figure why someone would go to the trouble of filling a garden with edible plants that weren’t strictly agricultural--this garden was full of berries and mint leaves, not corn or squash. The odd thing about this type of gardening--edible forestry--is that it occupies a space somewhere between the practicality of traditional farming and the artistry of decorative gardening.
The gratifying result now is that people can enjoy edible nature in the comfort of their backyards without raising too many eyebrows.
by HELEN ISAAC
(Check out Helen's vocals: Coupe Deville by The Sweets)