Project founder of edible gardens at Winneshiek Medical Center in Decorah, David Cavagnaro, defines edible gardens, "Gardens are not only food for the body, but for the spirit as well. By incorporating food in the landscape, makes it not only beautiful to view but edible—an edible landscape." His goal to develop public assessable educational garden has become a reality, at the Winneshiek Medical Center garden.
Guests are welcome at the edible garden landscape in the courtyard at the Winneshiek Medical Center in Decorah. David Cavagnaro and his team from the Pepperfield Project plant, tend and harvest the mixture of vegetables and perennials.
"The garden was planned to produce food crops wanted by food service," said Cavagnaro. "And the flowers in the garden are a requested item for the cafeteria, the reception desk, and for patient rooms."
Now, the edible landscaping project has grown far beyond what can be seen in the courtyard garden. The plot provides fresh, organically grown produce, while experimenting with techniques such as crop rotation and unique production methods. Garden seeds are the products from open pollinated heirloom garden seeds from Seed Savers Exchange and Cavagnaro, with the exception of the hybrid broccoli.
"We grow tomatoes from around the world and peppers that originated in Hungary," said Cavagnaro. "We are working on building up the soil here and our mulch comes from the city leaf dump."
"As the founder of this non-profit corporation (Pepperfield Project), it is my desire to preserve the cultural heritage of food growing and preparation techniques that have been lost, during the last century, as our society has become alienated from its agrarian roots," explains Cavagnaro.
Cavagnaro donates much of his time to see a healthy Northeast Iowa grow by his ongoing commitment to reconnecting people to the land as they eat healthy food they grew themselves. Come check out the hospital gardens this summer and you may be inspired with some ideas for your own edible gardens.