As I study the cityscape here in Los Angeles, it strikes me that landscape design has historically been by and large a whimsical pursuit. For as long as landscape design has been a profession in LA, practitioners have primarily listed their design "principles" or "ethos" only in terms of aesthetics: their design purpose is about "exercising restraint," or "capturing the interplay of light and dark", or "evoking the jungle", or "privatizing the estate", and especially "concealing the urban surrounding." The main drive of their design work has been in pleasing the consumer, and the expectation is that the consumer wants "pretty" and "privacy" but nothing more. Leaving the structure and design of our landscape up to individual aesthetic fancy this way is representative of the laissez faire, market-knows-best approach to urban planning and homeownership that the US has pursued for the past century.
I don't mean to imply that aesthetics are unimportant, I value them greatly. But given that in total all homeowner estates in a city represent a vast acreage of land and an important resource for the urban community, there are a lot of practical concerns about how we organize this resource that ought to be a part of landscape design decisions. In Los Angeles for the last one hundred years, designers and land owners have been administering land use decisions on hundreds of thousands of acres and have shown more concern for "evoking the jungle" than for capturing runoff, conserving water, supporting native ecosystems, or cultivating food.
Farmscape would like to instigate a new era of landscaping that synthesizes aesthetic concerns with mindful land stewardship decisions. When a homeowner, apartment manager, school, or municipal park planning committee contemplates what plants and materials they would like to place in their landscape, we'd like it to be a deeper discussion than simply "what can we plant here?" but also "what should we plant here?"
There ought to be a purpose beyond pure aesthetic whimsy involved in the plant palette selection for our front yards, back yards, medians, and schoolyards. Our open spaces ought not be written off as leafy-holodecks in which we craft escapist dreamscapes in imitation of wherever else it is we wished we lived. We ought instead to explore the plants that make sense in our regional climate, our built environment might then gain a "mindful" or "purposeful" aesthetic. And if you ask Farmscape, such an aesthetic should feature gardens intensely planted with food crops.
Food crops are not only beautiful to look at, but they are also fun to grow and then delicious to harvest and eat. Farmscape relies on landscape design principles that reach deeper than surface aesthetics, even as we also remain mindful of important aesthetic principles. In our hands, a "farmscape" looks beautiful and simultaneously offers ongoing value to the homeowner and the city surrounding.