EDIBLE WAY is a community participatory edible landscaping project in Matsudo, Japan, one of the commuter towns for people working in Tokyo. Matsudo also is an aging, shrinking, and isolated society, a typical example in current Japan. There are 25,317 old single families in Matsudo; this number has increased by twenty thousand families over the past 20 years. As a countermeasure, it is important to strengthen the network of relationships between people in daily life. Its aimed at contributing to people's communication and creating a social network for local resilience. The goal is improving the community and building a preventive safety network, in other words, providing a feeling of reliance and a sense of security that will support people in the community during emergencies.
Concept of EDIBLE WAY
Recently, the amount of edible landscapes in public space has been increasing throughout the world. It covers a range of areas such as building community, environment, local food production, social interaction, community engagement, etc. However, it is difficult to develop edible landscapes in public spaces in Japan. Thus, we developed EDIBLE WAY as potted gardening which is a traditional urban gardening method in Japan by placing movable planters in private spaces along the streets. It produced edible landscapes through individual gardening activity.
The word “way” of EDIBLE WAY means both the physical space of the street and methods of edible landscaping. The residents support this by watering the vegetables, and they can eat them when they want. We organize co-eating events to create casual connections between residents utilizing the common kitchens in vacant houses. The planters are small in scale, though, they are suitable for the urban food project and community building.
Process of EDIBLE WAY
The EDIBLE WAY initiated by a group of graduate students at Chiba University in Japan in collaboration with the community. The number of participants in the community gradually increased through communication and connections in the neighborhood in two years; there are currently 48 participants and more than 100 planters.
Findings of EDIBLE WAY
Through the EDIBLE WAY project, researchers, participants, and residents obtained several opportunities, benefits, meanings, and new values. Some examples of these were community improvements, local food, environmental education, community care, art and much more. It contributes to exploring and developing Citizen Science which was proposed as a solution methodology for social issues. The project also brings a feeling of local reliance, promoting a sense of belonging within the community while creating a safety network.
EDIBLE WAY NETWORK as a platform
EDIBLE WAY method has expanded to 5 other areas in Japan; other local communities followed our example in developing their own projects. In 2017, an EDIBLE WAY NETWORK started as a platform for sharing knowledge and information.