HOMEGROWN Life: Flowers Aren't Just for Lookin' Pretty

Reader Contribution by Farm Aid And Homegrown.Org
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 When your primary focus is growing food sometimes other plants get
overlooked. I have to say I’m definitely guilty of this. In a race to
use all of our available space to grow food we made the dumb decision to
rip out our landscape that was filled with flowers. Soon after we moved
the chickens and quickly realized that planting a new landscape – even
an edible one – wasn’t going to happen. The established landscape would
have been able to hold up to the chickens but anything planted now would
quickly get trampled and eaten.

We had Ceanothus (Wild Lilac) which has beautiful cornflower blue
flowers that bloomed the earliest in spring. The magenta Penstemon
(Beard Tongue) bloomed almost all year round here. In summer the
Hemerocallis (Daylily) and Lavandula (Lavender) bloomed together in
complementing orange and purple flowers. The Salvia (Mexican Bush Sage)
bloomed in late fall. In between all the plants grew a blanket of white

The flowers weren’t just there to be pretty. They provided
a long blooming source of forage for our bees and the native
pollinators. The hummingbirds and bumble bees would visit the Penstemon
on a regular basis. The clover offered consistent forage for the bees
and turkeys and it would have also been eaten by the chickens if we had
left it. Everything together offered habitat for beneficial insects
along with acting as a trap crop for pests. It served an important
purpose in helping us avoid using pesticides on our edibles.

there is also nothing wrong with pretty. My day job involves making
landscapes pretty. Pretty can make a space somewhere people want to
spend time. It can make a space relaxing. While edibles feed the body,
pretty feeds the soul. We need pretty just as much as we need
functional. And sometimes, like with our former landscape, pretty can be

My friends in college used to call me a Renaissance woman. I was
always doing something crafty, creative, or utilitarian. I still am. My
focus these days, instead of arts and crafts, has been farming as much
of my urban quarter acre as humanly possible. With my husband, we run Dog Island Farm
in the SF Bay Area. We raise chickens, goats, rabbits, dogs, cats, and a
kid. We’re always keeping busy. If I’m not out in the yard I’m in the
kitchen making something from scratch. Homemade always tastes better!