Exhibitor & Presenter Spotlight: Jeff Reiland with Abundant Design

Mar 11, 2016
Jeff Reiland has worked in Agriculture and Biotechnology for over 20 years and is striving to "feed the world". With a BA in Environmental Science, a landscaping background and a love of gardening and Permaculture, he wants to sustainably feed his community with the healthiest food possible.

Abundant Designs

Jeff will present at the 2016 Des Moines Home + Outdoor Living Show and also owns Abundant Design, which provides full design and installation services for edible and sustainable landscapes. He offers a little bit of background on edible landscapes.

Q: What exactly is an edible landscape?
Jeff: "An edible landscape is any landscape that incorporates edible plants into them. This can be anything from a pot of cooking herbs on your steps to vegetable garden & fruit tree to a complete food growing ecosystem."

Q: What is the most important factor homeowners need to think about when considering an edible landscape? 
Jeff: "First off, what do you already like to eat, and what would you like to experiment with? If you plant a plum tree and don’t really like plums, that’s going to be wasted effort (although the blossoms are nice). Second, you also need to consider your growing conditions; climate, wet or dry spots, sun or shade. The Midwest isn’t well known for its oranges and bananas. However, apples, strawberries and many others are excellent choices. These also usually appear on the “Dirty Dozen” list for residual pesticides, so growing your own can help reduce your exposure."

Q: What are some of the benefits of incorporating food into their decorative landscape?
Jeff: "The most obvious reason would be to get a return on our investment. We spend a lot of time & money mowing, pruning, raking, etc so we might as well be able to obtain a yield for all the work we put into them.

Other benefits include a sense of accomplishment, i.e. “I grew that!” and a feeling of connectedness to the land often leading to a greater sense of responsibility for our piece of property. Decorative flowering plants can also benefit fruits and vegetables by attracting pollinators and other beneficial insects."

Abundant Designs

Q: Do you need to be an avid gardener to consider an edible landscape?
Jeff: "No, there are many plants that don’t take a green thumb, and even edible native plants that are well adapted to your growing conditions. Herbs are a great place to start for beginners or those with limited space. Most are quite hardy once established, blend in well with other plantings and just a few plants can provide plenty for cooking or even to preserve. Strawberries are another easy one, plus they make an excellent ground cover."

Q: How do you usually begin the process with an interested customer? 
Jeff: "Once we have decided to work together, I like to visit the property with the customer. In addition to looking at the soil, sun exposure and existing landscape, we’ll talk about goals of the project, favorite/least favorite foods, favorite/least favorite parts of the property, and any problem areas that need to be addressed."

Q: What ideas/tips/information will you be sharing at the 2016 Des Moines Home + Outdoor Living Show? 
Jeff: "One of my presentations will be “Eat Your Weeds, and more” where I will talk about the different plants that have gotten a bad reputation with regards to a clean looking lawn, therefore they are often overlooked for their taste, nutrition and other benefits.

Come listen to Jeff at the Des Moines Home + Outdoor Living Show running March 11-13, 2016, at the Iowa Events Center. Don't have tickets yet? Get 2-for-1 on Facebook and treat a friend or family member to the show. We'd love to see you there!

Des Moines Home + Outdoor Living Show Logo

MARCH 11-13, 2016.