Friday, July 19, 10:00 am – 12:00 noon – The Edible Landscape Oasis

Imagine growing vegetables that require the same amount of care as perennial flowers and shrubs, need no annual tilling or planting, yet thrive and produce abundant and nutritious crops throughout the season – Eric Toensmeier has made it happen.  Eric lives in Holyoke, Massachusetts, where the climate is cold, often wet, and seldom enjoys three days of sunshine in a row.  It is not an ideal growing climate by any standards.  Yet, on a single evening stroll through his small backyard, Eric can collect a full meal for his household.  Using permaculture and polyculture techniques, Eric has transformed what was once a construction dirt lot into a veritable farmers market of organically grown fruits, nuts, and vegetables.

Like any well-designed polyculture, Eric and partner Jonathan Bates have packed a lot of productivity into their one-tenth of an acre urban farm.  After a few years as colleague plantsmen, Eric and Jonathan set out to create a multi-storied forest garden on this winter-challenged, urban lot.  More than eight years and a lot of hard work later, Eric invites you to tour his oasis to witness the successful food production and to learn how it was achieved by overcoming the challenges of a tiny urban lot, the shade of mature Norway maples, nutrient-deficient soil, heavy compaction, clay, lead, and urban prejudice against chickents.

Eric has a rich background in permaculture, having authored Perennial Vegetables and co-authored the two volume set Edible Forest Gardens.  Throughout this tour, sponsored by the Ecological Landscaping Association, Eric will describe such features as thoughtful planning, plant selection and placement, and will also share stories of setbacks and design failures along the way.  $20 ELA members, $25 non-members.  Call 617-436-5838, or register online at