Form and Function

Transition spaces are always important parts of a landscape. Often, they are edges, where forests meet fields, outside moves inside through the edge of a building, or stepping up or town topography. Fences, doorways, and stairs are features of these transition places, and should be designed with solid form and function. At Leafhopper Farm, budget is crucial in all building projects. With a little creativity, materials are sourced on site as much as possible. It leads to some whimsical shape in useful forms. After a year of using these initial designs, it’s good to take a moment in assessing the success, and possible improvement on initial conception.


In these stairs, a lot of loose cedar and large cement blocks were near-by in a pile. Location, location, location! The sidewalk (above right) comes to an abrupt end and the ground drops off over four feet. With a little gravel and a lot of additional rocks, these stairs were set. The sidewalk comes from the driveway and connects to our cabins. There is also a spigot (bottom right) to water the greenhouse and other gardens nearby. To the left out of frame, there are two cisterns which have not yet been utilized and are part of our cistern project which is in need of enhancement.

What’s next? For this stair, more clarity to the steps for easy use, and drainage improvement around the lower stairs which T section with a trail connected to bath house and parking. The space is used daily, and being high traffic, there are many systems present. Even the plants are intentional. A Yellow Egg Plum Prunus domestica stands just behind the cedar limb handrail. The plan is to turn the tree into the handrail and offer east fruit picking for a late summer snack. In the bed around this plum are Comfrey Symphytum officinale, who will chop and drop for a few years to establish a fertile bed around this wonderful fruit.


Here’s a completely different perspective of that staircase looking towards the pond where two Hooded Mergansers Mergus merganser are resting on the water. The handrail may look a little haphazard, but it works well as support to anyone headed up or down and also will be the trellis for the Prunus. There is decoratively bright and low maintenance Stone Crop Sedum reflexum between the rocks on the steps. We’ll continue to amend the area with good plants, many of which are both edible and medicinal.

I’ve mentioned in past posts about how sculpting the spaces around Leafhopper Farm allows evolution of space through an artistic lens. This transition area is a perfect example of that process. The dead wood will be replaced by living wood, and stone will slip under an evergreen blanket of useful plants, offering habitat and food for all around. It’s good to see these paces coming into use.


This raised bed, just below the stairs, has come to life with tomatoes and cucumber. The bed is now established and will be joined by another for next Spring’s planting. Small production spaces are scattered throughout Leafhopper, offering a myriad of places to cultivate food and medicine. Small personal veggie patches are also developing about dwellings on the property and add so much to the richness of this land.


Having the support of other growers and stewards here at Leafhopper Farm adds to the form of space and anchors function in production. That’s what this farm is all about, and it’s a delight to continue hosting space where people can sculpt what inspired them too.


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