The Foodscape at the Myers Education Center

Tomatoes in the foodscape garden

The Foodscape features plants with edible qualities, and is a canvas for visitors to learn creative, sustainable, and beautiful ways to grow their own food.

By definition, a “foodscape” is a space where people acquire and prepare food, talk about and learn about food, and connect with food. To this we added our vision for the Foodscape, which is to celebrate the beauty of food crops as elements of a managed landscape.

What you'll see at the Foodscape

As the central point of the Farm at the Arb, the Foodscape sits between three separate areas: the Fruitful Way and orchard to the south, the Tashjian Bee and Pollinator Discovery Center to the northwest, and the crop farm and vegetable garden to the east. The renovated Red Barn sits to the west. 

The Foodscape contains four innovative gardens: 

  • Edible Front Yard: This garden is packed with creative gardening methods for producing edible and pollinator-friendly plants. Whether you have a large urban lot or a single pot to garden with, everyone can find an idea here.
  • Living Grass Patio: Minnesota-adapted turfgrasses grow between permeable pavers, providing a soft and cooling surface that also filters rainwater.
  • Meadow for Sharing: Many of the pollinator-friendly plants growing here also have edible parts that people and wildlife like to eat.
  • Vegetable Garden: Looking to scale it up? The vegetable garden demonstrates how to grow large quantities of produce for selling, donating, or preserving.

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Design Details

Julie Weisenhorn, University of Minnesota Horticulture Extension Educator, led the design of the Foodscape, in collaboration with Extension Turfgrass Educator Jon Trappe. The Foodscape is right in the middle of the Farm at the Arb, so Weisenhorn designed this garden to connect all of the four areas of the farm. This unifies the spaces and expresses the connections of food, pollinators and land. In sustainable design, connection is accomplished by repetition, giving us the feeling of unity and rhythm as we walk from one area seamlessly into the next. 

Design elements and plants used in each area of the farm were incorporated into the Foodscape. The pollinator garden is repeated as the Edible Meadow. Plants from the Fruitful Way are repeated in the Edible Front Yard and the Living Patio. The Living Patio also contains grasses repeated in the Great Lawn inside the Fruitful Way. The linear rows of the Market Vegetable Garden are carried over in the Foodscape’s vegetable garden. Consistent hardscapes including cement walks, containers, trellises, and even mulch also connect and unify spaces.

Growing techniques on display include vertical growing, containers, interplanting, cultivated rows and organically shaped beds. Weisenhorn also aimed to demonstrate how mixing and matching edible plants by texture, form, size, plant type, and color can bring surprising beauty and joy to a landscape that also feeds humans and pollinators.

Designed for education and exploration, the Foodscape provides examples of new growing methods, new plants and new foods. Gardeners of all experience levels and spaces, from acreage to patios and balconies, can take home new ideas.

Photo by Johanna DeBuhr
Photo by Johanna Debuhr

Arboretum Education staff, Extension Educators, and Extension Master Gardener volunteers will be implementing new ideas and growing new plants in the Foodscape. What is learned here will be the source of Extension and Arboretum educational classes and workshops, written and presented content, and images and inspiration for visitors in-person and online. Plans, diagrams, plant lists and plant information will also be available.

Learn more about Arboretum education classes