On Thursday, March 19th, the Miami-Dade Chapter of the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association (FNGLA) awarded Christopher Cuesta with a $2,000 Living Legend Scholarship. Cuesta is a first-year Master of Landscape Architecture student at FIU Landscape Architecture + Environmental and Urban Design (LAEUD).
Cuesta was born in Miami and has an Associate degree in Environmental Science from Miami-Dade College. Cuesta is the owner and founder of Edible Miami, LLC, a sustainable and edible landscape company that designs and installs vegetable gardens, butterfly gardens, many varieties of fruit trees, rain water collection systems, native plants, hydroponic systems and Florida-friendly plants. He also works with Casa Planta Garden Center, where he promotes responsible landscape practices to his clients and explains plant characteristics that are suitable to particular areas.
Cuesta is a member of Green Roofs For Healthy Cities, a not-for-profit industry association aiming to “develop and protect the market by increasing the awareness of the economic, social and environmental benefits of green roofs, green walls, and other forms of living architecture, through education, advocacy, professional development and celebrations of excellence” (Source: Green Roofs for Healthy Cities).
Cuesta’s recent commercial designs include edible and native plant gardens at Finka Table and Tap and 27 Restaurant. He has also collaborated with local communities in Miami in the design of public gardens, most recently the Citizens of the Future Community Garden for Capoeira Miami and edible landscape for the Yoga Inbound Hindu temple and retreat. Most of Cuesta’s designs and installations are in residential homes, where he helps his clients access their yard and incorporate edible and native plants into their plot.
“I study landscape architecture in Miami because it is paradise!” said Cuesta. “It is a place where pine rocklands meet the swamp, and where the swamp embraces the tropical flora. It is where I become fascinated with the odd mixture of South Florida’s unique native plants among the wide array of exotic fruit trees that can be called [delicacies]. Miami’s cultural dynamics are just as diverse as their plant life. It is interesting to see people from all over South America and the Caribbean sharing a similar upbringing around similar landscapes, climate, and ethnobotanical practices.”
Cuesta’s goal as a landscape architect in Miami is “to bring our communities closer by acknowledging the fact that an interactive relationship between our landscapes is possible in our chaotic city. By focusing on increasing our city’s walkability, reducing suburban sprawl, and taking advantage of Florida’s most abundant resource, the sun in our sunshine state, a true cultural paradise, can be reached.”
In regards to his experience thus far at FIU LAEUD, Cuesta said, “it has really been rewarding working in a community of forward-thinking mentors who really push the students to think differently. I enjoy being a part of the learning process with a variety of people who think differently. It comforts me to be on a journey with other students as we develop our cognitive thinking and embrace new ideas [that are outside] of our comfort zones. Most of all, I enjoy the experience of constructive criticism that allows me to step back, absorb and digest experienced thoughts that my professors propose.”
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