Last night I went to the grand opening of the Lenape Edible Estates in Manhattan. This was a fun-filled event with tastings of food from the garden, a film about the creation of the estate, and a discussion with the creator of the Edible Estates.
The Edible Estates project was started by the architect and artist Fritz Haeg to replace front lawns with gardens producing fruits and vegetables. Prior to the opening of the Manhattan garden, Haeg created estates in California, Kansas, New Jersey, Texas, London, and Maryland. What’s amazing and different about the Manhattan estate is that a garden was built and food grown in an urban environment in the middle of tall apartment buildings and skyscrapers. Who would think you can grow fruits and vegetables there?!
According to the website, the Lenape estate was created to “provide a view back to the lives of the native Lenape people, how they lived off the land 400 years ago on the island of Mannahatta, from the native edible plants and their mounded plantings of beans, corn and squash, also know as three sisters.” Although the garden is small, it has four different areas where different items were grown. Here is a map of what the estate looks like:
It’s a little difficult to see, but you can tell that it is a small area for food to be grown. The garden is really designed to be viewed from the outside, with signs all along the perimeter describing the different plants and how they were used by the native Lenape people (before Manhattan was filled with buildings). For example, this is the sign for the “three sisters,” and below it is a Three Sisters Salad that was served at the event.
I found this project to be a great way to teach people, especially children, the foods that provided the natives with nutrition prior to restaurants, grocery stores, and fast food joints.
Would you want an Edible Estate near you?