Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Kitchen Garden at Medlock Ames

The Medlock Ames winery in Healdsburg, CA features a beautiful kitchen garden designed by the landscape architecture firm Nelson, Byrd, Woltz. A restrained palette and simple lines create a series of serene outdoor rooms, with views to the vineyards beyond. The raised beds in the kitchen garden are galvanized steel, harmonizing with the cools greys in the concrete walks and walls, and the building itself. Decomposed granite contrasts in warm fields and bands on the ground plane. Against these neutrals the herbs and edible plants hum with color, taking center stage.In this way the garden is almost cinematic, with a fuzzy background and a brilliant foreground. The plants in the kitchen garden garnish drinks at the bar, and are pickled for sale in the gift shop. The surrounding landscape of grasses treats stormwater run-off on its way to the nearyby creek, and rows of heritage oaks frame the whole. Looking forward to seeing it in person soon!

[View of the kitchen garden on left, vineyard in background, photo: Marion Brenner via]

[Party in the garden, photo via]

[View of kitchen garden and winery, photo: Jamie Gross via]

[Beautiful rows of pickled vegetables for sale, photo via]

[Heritage olives frame the picnic area and views to the vineyard, photo via]
[Wood fence frames the garden, photo via]

[Simple serene materials palette, photo via]

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Scaling Up Ag-Conservation

"The central question facing land conservationists today is how to scale up efforts to protect entire landscapes and whole natural systems. The land trust movement has been built on the individual successes of conserved private properties, but increasingly both conservationists and landowners entering into conservation agreements want to know what is being done about their neighbor, their neighborhood and most significantly, their landscape. Farmers and ranchers talk of the need to sustain a continuous network of working lands - a critical mass of agricultural activity - or risk losing the supporting business and community cooperation they require to survive."  Canfei He and Lei Yang, 'Scaling up Conservation for Large Landscapes' in LandLines July 2011 (my emphasis added)

[South Indiana Aerial, oil painting, artist: Lyn Dunbar]

I love the idea of thinking beyond the singular farm to a network of farms and farm communities, and even further to the watersheds that supply the farm's water, the wild places that supply the farm's natural pollinators and beneficial insects. It's also intriguing to apply this thinking to urban and suburban farming, to examine the network of gardens and farms, and other elements that interact as larger whole. A few years ago, I interviewed Matt Sheafer of Sandhill Organics, the 45-acre organic farm at Prairie Crossing, a planned community one-hour outside Chicago, and he cited this idea of network as what was ideal for him about suburban farming. The way he saw it, he was close enough to agricultural communities to benefit from fuel and seed cooperatives, and other rural networks, but also close enough to a city that his kids could go to great schools and visit museums on the weekend. What would we 'conserve', or recognize, as part of a holistic urban/suburban agriculture plan? The resevoirs that supply irrigation water, the farmer's markets where produce is sold and the education programs that create the social capital to support these agrarian efforts would be just a few on my list. Leave a comment with elements you'd add!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Design Interview - Sacred Heart School Organic Food Garden

This week I interviewed Marco Esposito, the designer for the Sacred Heart School Organic Food Garden in Atherton, CA. He answers questions about designing for food in public spaces, planning for outputs and change in the garden, and discusses how health codes affect serving food grown on your own campus! The interview appears on the SWA Group Urban Agriculture Advocacy page, and can be read in full here.

[View of garden expansion, Science Center and original garden in background, photo by Tom Fox]