Thursday May 23, 2013 | 12:52 PM

The folks I know who grow edibles, whether for a CSA of 400 or their dining room table, design their gardens with a blend of artistry as well as function in mind. Oftentimes, I have seen how beautifully home gardeners weave varieties of perennials into the design of their kitchen garden and repurpose old furniture as vertical gardens. On the back of my barn hang two burlap sacks refashioned into herb containers. Why not have some fun and make use of a sunny spot!? In commercial fields function takes priority, but that doesn’t mean a clever farmer won’t get creative with scarecrows, antique wrought iron fences, murals on the inner or outer wall of a barn, or hand painted signs noting the location of the squash beds. Here’s a link to an article in Better Homes & Garden Magazine about how to bring a bit of whimsy and additional color to your edible garden (note the important tips in the reuse section). 

Located on a two-hundred-year-old dairy farm in Falmouth, Maine, Lincoln Farm Studio is a small oasis for creativity, education and delight. Artist and studio owner Layne Gregory is a self-taught mosaic practitioner/artist. In 2000 she bought a huge number of vintage plates from the Goodwill, broke them and tiled a bathroom tub backsplash. “I realized then how easy it is to do and began experimenting with different substrates like ceramic pots and plates, floors, etc.,” Gregory said. In 2010, she built a studio and began playing more with mixed media stained glass, mosaics and other art forms.

This year Gregory is growing carrots, beets, broccoli, a variety of herbs, garlic, asparagus, berries, kale, peppers, onions, cucumbers, zucchini, and more!!

We caught up with her to learn more about how she brings art into her edible gardens.

How did you get started gardening?

My paternal grandfather was an ornamental gardener in Southern California where I spent my first 12 years. He took the time to explain to me how to care for his prize roses, camellias and azaleas. We moved to Lincoln, MA. in 1970 where my father established a big, beautiful vegetable garden. I had nothing to do with it as a teenager, but must have picked up an appreciation of gardening through osmosis. As soon as I had some garden space of my own, whether in a small apartment backyard in Arlington MA, or in Boston, I began planting flowers and vegetables. It was not until my husband and our small family moved to Maine in 1989 that I began earnestly gardening. I learned by trial and error, a lot of error in there, until I started taking workshops and courses in the mid 90’s.

What do you do with everything you grow - eat it, donate some...?

I have a small green house that allows me to start most, if not all, of my vegetables and some flowers in early March. I grow enough to donate several hundred seedlings (tomatoes, peppers, tomatillos, annual flowers, eggplant and more) to two charitable plant sales: the St. Mary’s Garden Club and Bet Ha’ Am Synagogue. I do a lot of food preservation in the growing season that allows us to eat out of the garden all winter and spring. I give a lot away to family and friends too. For a couple summers, I ran a small CSA and supported 5 families with garden produce from May through October. That was too much work so I stopped after a couple summers.

What inspired you to incorporate art into the garden, and how did you first get started?

I have several friends who have purchased some exquisite outdoor sculpture from June LaCombe  in Pownal, Maine. That inspired my bigger piece and purchase. As far as including mosaics in the garden-scape, that just felt like a natural thing. Garden stepping-stones add color that ties things together. Birdbaths on a pedestal adds interesting form and draws the eye in where you want it to go.

Information on Gregory’s mosaic workshops and private classes can be found here

Photos by Layne Gregory.

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About the Author

Sharon Kitchens is a neo-homesteader learning the ins and outs of country living by luck and pluck and a lot of expert advice. She writes about bees for The Huffington Post and stuff she loves on her personal blog, deliciousmusings.com.

When she is not writing, she enjoys edible gardening, reading books on food and/or thinking about food, hanging out by her beehives and patiently tracking down her chickens in the woods behind her old farmhouse.

In her blog, Sharon profiles farm families, reports on farm-based education and internships, conducts Q&A's with master beekeepers, offers tips on picking a CSA, and much more.

Sharon can be contacted at kitchens.sharon@gmail.com or on Twitter @deliciousmusing.

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