Even though this is the land of backyard paradises, not everyone in L.A. has enough land for a garden. But there is still a way to cultivate your own summer bounty before planting season ends. Local entrepreneurs are thinking creatively about the intersection of design and food cultivation to help would-be gardeners overcome spatial constraints.
Take Food Map Design's mobile container. The eco-friendly planter-on-wheels brings together a contemporary design sensibility, environmental goals, small-scale urban agriculture and the practical needs of the backyard-challenged. The seeds for the project were planted, so to speak, many years ago; co-founder and chief designer Jon Wilson points to a childhood interest in farmland and his architecture school thesis that looked at suburban sprawl and farmland issues. But the Food Map Container really began to take shape when Wilson and his wife Elizabeth planted tomatoes on their Santa Monica apartment patio. The vines thrived until the shade from a large tree cut the tomato plants' lives short, and they realized that mobility would be key to capturing sunlight and successfully growing anything on their modest city plot.
So they started Food Map Design and identified local manufacturers that were on board with the company's insistence on green materials and principles. According to Wilson, Food Map containers are designed and made “long enough and wide enough so you can grow a lot of different things and substantial amounts.” The short planter ($185) is based on a child's scale and the taller one ($195) is comfortable for an adult's reach, but both have the same roomy planting bed. “We didn't want it to be just symbolic. We want it to yield something useful,” Wilson explains. He notes the containers are deep enough for tomatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, radishes, and other root vegetables to thrive. Herbs are very sensible and easy items to grow, too.
Let the sunshine in! And then scoot the Food Map Container around as its light moves.