Urban gardens are all the rage and the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival is showcasing compact ideas like vertical towers, growing in hay bales, wheelbarrows, raised beds and hanging containers.

The 24th annual festival is leaning toward the fresh trend by inspiring gardeners in tight spaces to grow their own food.

“We see more and more guests, especially in their 20s, asking how to grow plants,” says Eric Darden, horticulture manager for the festival. “They are much more interested in growing food than flowers – and learning how to grow fruits and vegetables.”

Darden is a big proponent of mixing flowers with veggies, think cauliflower with petunias or peanuts and pansies.

“You can have both and still grow (them) in a confined area,” he said.

The festival’s 15 Outdoor Kitchens have raised bed gardens that feature fruits, herbs and vegetables served in the adjacent kiosks.

Farm to table dishes can be found along the Rose Walk between Future World and World Showcase. The Urban Farm Eats Outdoor Kitchen offers a watermelon salad with pickled onions, baby arugula, feta and balsamic reduction; seared pork tenderloin with mushroom ragoût, spring vegetables and fingerling potatoes, and a vegetarian “crabless” cake with veggie slaw, lemon vinaigrette and Old Bay remoulade.

A stroll through the urban farm features 24 different plants that create a harmony of color and texture. Carrots, parsley, sweet potatoes and stalks of corn are mixed with tomatoes ripening on the vine near beets, stalks of sugar cane and kiwi trees.

Epcot master gardeners will help navigate the gardening paradise, where each plant shows the diversity of a Florida garden.

The festival runs through May 29.

 

About The Author

The youngest of seven children, Terry O. Roen followed two older brothers into journalism. Her career started as a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel, where she wrote stories on city and county government, schools, courts and religion. She has also reported for the Associated Press, where she covered the Casey Anthony and Trayvon Martin trials along with the Pulse massacre. Married to her husband, Hal, they have two children and live in Winter Park. A lifelong tourist in her own state, she writes about Central Florida’s growing tourism industry for Florida Politics and Orlando Rising.

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