Got Yard? Farm it!
When it comes to farming, most people think of acres of land and row upon row of single crops. It’s the same for gardening. Many people think they need at least an acre or a large field. But urban farming and the backyard garden is shifting that paradigm.
Today, there are an increasing number of backyard gardeners-turned-farmers. We polled our GardensAll community on who would like to garden for a living, and the results are that for approximately every one gardener who’s earning money from their farm or garden, at least twenty more would like to.
Based on that unscientific poll and how popular small-scale gardening books are within the Gardens All community, we’re guessing that 1 in 20 is a conservative figure. Bottom line:
Many people today would like to make their garden their business.
It’s inspiring to discover what’s possible and how much you can produce right on an urban lot with urban farming.
What’s Possible with Back Yard Farming
Backyard Farming, also call Urban Farming and Suburban Farming, is a movement where average people in typical homes in neighborhoods, are turning part of their property, mainly part of their backyards into mini or micro farms.
Billions are spent each year on yard care, and much of that involves chemicals to make nice lawns and kill weeds. Then there’s the extra gas and equipment required for mowing and trimming lawns. We love to walk barefoot on a nice grass too, but that’s a lot of time, energy and care spent on something that doesn’t feed your family.
Today especially, catalyzed by pandemic concerns, the vegetable gardening industry is experiencing unprecedented growth. Homeowners are embracing the concept of the “Victory Garden“, and even those without much land are growing what they can from patios and balconies.
Backyard Gardeners and Urban Farmers Are…
- Growing microgreens and salad ingredients year round
- Growing 100 lbs of potatoes on a tiny patio
- Raising chickens for eggs and/or meat
- Keeping Tilapia fish to eat
- Raising rabbits or quail for meat
- Converting lawns into mini farms
- Producing staple crops like corn and wheat
- Using things like fences, walls, posts and garages to trellis things like tomatoes, grapes, squash, beans, and melons
- Growing garlic and selling it for an average retail of:
- $2/lb conventional
- up to $30/lb for organic garlic
- Specialty garlic $5-$27 lbhttps://keeneorganics.com/product/russian-giant-naturally-grown-garlic-bulbs/
- Raising bees and selling honey for $7 a pound at farmers markets
- Making your own beer, wine, mead, cider or brandy
- Creating health and beauty products.
- Making or growing products that can be sold on sites like Etsy, ebay, Amazon and Craigslist.
The Urban Homestead
Don’t be intimidated by the term homesteading. If you start where you are with what you have, you can gain experience in gardening that can transition into market gardening and eventually toward more homesteading and farming if you wish to.
Sure, homesteading originally meant acres of land. The term comes from “Homestead Acts” where people were given allotments of land to work for free or low cost. These were traditionally established to help settle the wild west of the US.
The 1862 Homestead Act accelerated settlement of U.S. western territory by allowing any American, including freed slaves, to put in a claim for up to 160 free acres of federal land.
Homesteading today means those who are seeking to live self sufficiently, off their land. You don’t need acres to garden or farm.
Ease into Farming
One of the easiest ways to get into backyard gardening is through foodscaping your yard. Foodscaping is where you expand your landscaped areas with edible plants, many of which are also ornamental.
Ornamental edibles are especially important if you live in an area with a restrictive homeowners association (HOA) or city ordinance. Others, such as vining beans, peas and tomatoes can be cultivated to be ornamental landscape features using attractive trellises, pots, planters and other garden decor.
So if you’ve want to setup a farm but think homesteading is “out” for you because you don’t have the land or money. You may think it’s not possible if you’re in an urban area, but there are highly profitable urban farms on as little as 1/4 acre of land.
Much less land is needed for being profitable with something like growing microgreens. So where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Visioning and Planning Your Dream
Start by clarifying your dream. There are visioning tools and tips to help you on another of our family’s websites.
What it would look like and how you would feel living that dream? Set your dream in motion by setting goals that outline all the things you can think on that will need to be done to get you where you want to go.
Brain dump onto a list, anything and everything that comes to mind. Don’t worry about organizing them just yet. You can do that afterwards.
Set Goals and Work Them Daily
Next, take your vision and consider what’s possible for you to achieve in the next 90 days to a year. Ideally, you’d create a 5 year plan for something like a farm, however, if that’s a stretch to imagine and plan that far out, then you can work within the year via quarters toward setting short term and long term goals.
What’s Possible in 90 Days?
Once you’ve identified what’s possible to achieve within 90 days, break the larger 90 day goal/s into 3 months, and from there into the first month’s weekly and daily tasks. That’s where you’ll be creating daily micro goals that help you achieve your weekly goals.
When you achieve your daily and weekly goals you’re well on your way to achieving your quarterly goals and from there, nothing can stop you so long as you keep planning, doing and tweaking your goals daily.
You’ll be amazed at just how much you can get done in just 90 days… 30 days at a time… one day at a time.
there may be creative ways to pursue your dream. …there’s still lots you can do to homestead your yard toward sustainable living.
Reasons to Create an Urban Farm
- NUTRITIOUS: Homegrown food can be safer, healthier, and the best nutrition, especially if organic
- THERAPEUTIC: Gardening is a therapeutic, healthy, stress-reducing activity
- HEALTH & FITNESS: Gardening out in fresh air and sunshine is good exercise and vitamin D
- FAMILY UNITY: Growing your own food fosters family unity and connections with each other and nature
- COMMUNITY: Growing your own food often provides bounty to share with neighbors, family and friends
- ECONOMICAL: Gardening is more economical
- ECOLOGICAL: More garden, less lawn is healthier for the environment and ecosystem
How to Start an Urban Farm With Just 1/4 Acre
Curtis Stone, is author of The Urban Gardener. In this video below, Curtis answers the question you may be wondering:
How to start an urban or backyard farm on just 1/4 acre?
It is well worth your time to take the 6 minutes to watch Curtis assure aspiring “farm-preneurs” how they can get started on less than 1/4 acre.
We hope you enjoyed learning of more of what’s possible for urban farming and backyard gardening. If you’re doing it, we’d love to hear from you!
GROWING FOR PROFIT AND RETIREMENT: If you’re interested in connecting with others who are—or want to be—growing food for profit or supplemental income, we invite you to join our Facebook group: Planting for Retirement.
Wishing you great gardens and happy harvests!
I’m LeAura Alderson, entrepreneur, ideator, media publisher, writer and editor of GardensAll.com. Pursuits in recent years have been more planting seeds of ideas for business growth more than gardening. However, I’ve always kept plants, been interested in medicinal herbs and nutrition and healing from food over pharmacy. I assist in our family gardening projects primarily (at present) through the sharing of information through our websites and newsletters.
As a family we’re steadily expanding our gardening, experimentation and knowledge around all things gardening, edible landscaping, fresh organic foods and self sustainability and hopefully, farming in our future. We thoroughly enjoy and appreciate the creative ingenuity of the GardensAll community. I also own and manage theiCreateDaily.com.