My floor speech on LD 474 “An Act to Require Edible Landscaping in a Portion of Capitol Park.”

My floor speech on LD 474 “An Act to Require Edible Landscaping in a Portion of Capitol Park.”

Today I gave a floor speech in support of LD 474, “An Act to Require Edible Landscaping in a Portion of Capitol Park.” The bill was introduced by Representative Craig Hickman and I was a proud co-sponsor. The bill passed 107-33. I’m very excited to be a part of this next step in Capitol Park’s history!

Thank you Mr. Speaker, Ladies and Gentlemen of the house I rise in support of the pending motion.

In 1920, Frederick Law Olmsted’s firm was commissioned by Governor Miliken to prepare a plan for the Capitol grounds. The park is now on the National Registry of Historic Places. While the design originated from the Olmsted firm and was based upon his style, we didn’t fully implement the full vision that was proposed for this site.

I am a graduate of Smith College, where I was a student in their Landscape Studies minor program and focused on Landscape Architecture. One of the highlights of studying at the program at Smith was that we were surrounded by a Frederick Law Olmsted designed campus.  Having studied first hand Olmsted’s work and theory I can say with confidence that this bill would fit perfectly with his style and help further his vision right here in Augusta, Maine.

We now have a excellent opportunity to build upon the Olmsted design and connect this park to our current needs. Where the original 1920‘s plan also called for tennis courts, a garden with native trees and shrubs, a zoo with native animals, and paths that led to scenic views of the river, most of which were not built, we can now integrate edible landscaping into the Park for the benefit of all Mainers.

Other state governments have embraced the benefits of edible landscaping. Such landscaping transformations have already occurred in Baltimore, Maryland, Portland, Oregan, and Montpelier, Vt.  In Madison, Wisconsin staffers ripped out the flowers around the Capitol and replaced them with potatoes, cabbage, carrots, corn, peppers, and tomatoes. In 2009 Vermont established the first in the Nation State House Food Garden.

By incorporating edible plants into the landscape of Capitol Park we can lead by example. That’s what we do here in Maine, we lead! The edible landscape can help expose citizens of our state to many types of plants they may have never seen before. It can also pay tribute to Maine’s proud agricultural history by featuring displays of our native plants and key crops. Imagine strolling through Capitol Park and seeing potatoes blossoming near a display of local lupines. Imagine turning the corner and seeing strawberries edging a bed of decorative cabbage interspersed with tulips. Edible landscaping can help take a product that we are used to seeing on the shelves of the grocery store and placing it in reality. We can see how these plants grow and produce the fruits and vegetables we know and love. We can watch as plants transition from germination to blossoming to harvest time. The grounds at Capitol Park should be a living museum that will inspire and educate Mainers to grow their own edible landscapes and take part in preserving and honoring Maine’s farming tradition.

Let’s finish Olmsted’s design. Let’s be a part of history and turn Capital Park into a living museum for all Mainers! I urge you to support this motion.

This post was written by
Matthea “Mattie” Daughtry, a Brunswick native, is the State Representative for the Maine House District 66

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