Permaculture Realized Podcast Episode 8, Creating Edible Landscapes and Forest Garden Ecosystems with Fred Meyer

by | Nov 25, 2015 | Agriculture, Foraging/Wildcrafting, Permaculture/Homesteading, Plants, Podcast, Water Systems | 0 comments


Episode 8, Creating Edible Landscapes and Forest Garden Ecosystems with Fred Meyer



Today’s guest is Fred Meyer, who is the founder of the non-profit called Backyard Abundance in Johnson County, Iowa. Backyard Abundance creates beautiful, environmentally beneficial landscapes that produce food for humans and wildlife. Basically, Fred and his team are turning lawns into food producing ecosystems, or Forest Gardens all over town, both in public parks, and around peoples homes.

I first met Fred at an Edible Ecosystems Emerging Course down in Tennessee a few years ago, that was put on by Dave Jacke. Fred stood out as a very experienced and inspiring individual, as you’ll see in this interview.

Today we’ll get to learn more about his work, how he got to where he is, and some of the important lessons along the way.

The beautiful manicured lawn seems to be a part of the American cultural tradition. Since Lancelot “Capability” Brown introduced manicured lawns in England in the 18th century, the lawn has spread around the world. Yet, lawns, as they are done today, are not an ecologically responsible way of managing land. Irrigating lawns in the US consumes on average 200 gallons of potable water per person, per DAY. And this is in a time when water supplies are increasingly under pressure as populations grow. All along the Atlantic seaboard from Florida to New York, saltwater is flowing into formerly freshwater aquifers and wells because we are pumping freshwater out faster than nature can put it back. We really need to re-think how we use our available water supplies.

Plus the bio-cides and fertilizers used on lawns contribute to the pollution of our rivers and lakes through run-off.

In North America, lawns have passed croplands as the primary managed land cover, occupying an area larger than the states of Nevada and Massachusetts combined. But because everybody cares primarily for their own turf, the cumulative impacts of daily lawn maintenance are not really on the radar for most folks. Imagine if, instead of spending a couple hours a week maintaining lawns and ornamental landscapes, families would instead tend to forest gardens, and produce food and healthy ecosystems. Again, it’s a win-win-win. Healthier people, healthier soil, healthier planet.

Fred Meyer is leading the change in his community by installing edible forest gardens, and educating about them. We need this happening everywhere and fast. What are you waiting for?

If you have any good links or materials that relate to what we were talking about in this podcast, feel free to share it with others in the comment section for this episode on

Next weeks episode will be a little different. I recently had the opportunity to take an Advanced Permaculture Design Course in Akron, OH led by Peter Bane, and I’ve got a lot of good take-aways to share, so that’s what the next episode will be about! So stay tuned. Thanks for listening.

Thanks BARC for composting food waste on our site, providing us with copious free organic matter and feed for pigs and chickens! Let's keep closing the loops!