about context

Foodscapes are part of a larger strategy to grow resilient human communities that can sustain themselves (see primary production below) within given naturally-bounded, geographical areas or bioregions.

Through FoodPlaces, Inhabit Earth and partners are championing the idea of productive placemaking.

Productive placemaking is a multi-faceted approach to the planning, design, and management of public spaces with the intention of creating public spaces that actively contribute to people’s health, happiness, and well-being.

A foodscape is one of several replicable productive placemaking patterns we are currently developing to affect broad-scale ecosocial transformation. Another is a foodway, a community or regional scale pattern that forms a corridor of productive landscapes, including foodscapes and all sorts of food-based community-operated spaces.

These are part of a larger strategy we call primary production.

Primary production is the ability of a bioregion to become a self-sustaining foodshed. In other words, they produce all the basic material needs [?] for all of their inhabitants in a regenerative (see below) manner.

Primary production can help communities in achieving community food security [?] while growing circular economies [?] and significantly reducing carbon footprints [?] from needless transport of materials that can be produced locally in bioregions.

Every bioregion has an overabundance of underutilized, non-productive spaces.

Foodscapes can be an ideal way to incorporate primary production into every available underutilized space in our bioregion, particularly in the public realm.

Foodscapes represent a purposeful approach for reclaiming “marginal” spaces that make up our collective commons. At best, they are dedicated to growing lawn-grass and ubiquitous ornamental plants. More often than not, they are abandoned, blighted, and laid to waste.

FoodPlaces is intended to enable communities to replace these unhealthy, non-productive land use patterns with regenerative ones.

Regenerative practices restore, renew or revitalize their own sources of energy and materials, creating Life-sustaining systems that integrate the needs of society while preserving the integrity of Earth’s life-support systems.

Practices such as growing perennial crops with foodscapes regenerate living soil, clean water and air, habitat, abundance of yields, community, and livelihoods.

Communities and bioregions that embrace primary production using regenerative practices would be significantly better prepared to adapt and recover gracefully from increasingly destructive climate events and participate proactively in stabilizing the climate.

There are several systems devised to decide what is appropriate to plant, where. The Species Index has several climate zones for each species. However, due to the fact that it is the most informative and nuanced, we chosen Sunset climate zones as the key way to determine what is appropriate for your foodscape’s climate context.

Sunset climate zones take into account:

Continental air influence. The North American continent generates its own weather, which ― compared with coastal climates ― is colder in winter, hotter in summer, and more likely to get precipitation any time of year. The farther inland you live, the stronger this continental influence. Wind also becomes a major factor in open interior climates.

Mountains, hills, and valleys. In the West, the Coast Ranges take some marine influence out of the air that passes eastward over them. The Sierra-Cascades and Southern California’s interior mountains further weaken marine influence. From the Rocky Mountains to the Appalachians, continental and arctic air dominate, with moist air from the Gulf pushing north during the warm season. During winter, Arctic outbreaks are most intense between the Rockies and the Appalachians. Both ranges act as barriers that limit the influence of the cold beyond them.

Microclimates. Local terrain can sharply modify the climate within any zone. South-facing slopes get more solar heat than flat land and north-facing slopes. Slope also affects airflow: warm air rises, cold air sinks. Because hillsides are never as cold in winter as the hilltops above them or the ground below them, they’re called thermal belts. Lowland areas into which cold air flows are called cold-air basins. Microclimates also exist within every garden. All else being equal, garden beds on the south side of an east-west wall, for example, will be much warmer than garden beds on the north side of the same wall.

Inhabit Earth’s ultimate goal is to bring about global climate stabilization.

There is a growing body of research that suggests that most perennial-based productive landscapes using regenerative practices perform better than natural forests in sequestering carbon in the soil and above ground biomass. This is well documented in seminal works such as,

If we wait for singular extraordinary efforts to bring about climate stabilization, we may never achieve it. With FoodPlaces, we have created a platform that enables small regenerative practices – a foodscape in a median, for instance – to be distributed broadly and replicated easily by anyone anywhere.

We believe that the cumulative effect will quickly add up and create an extraordinary impact.