Urban Farming for Everyone
Often the notion of an urban farm is sequestered in the thought that an urban farm is a FARM, with bad smells, chemical cocktails and all the ickies that come with a farm. A farm that is large and can have some detractors in the neighborhood.
Not so at The Urban Farm. I’d like to throw out the possibility of a new kind of farming, what I will call community farming. Farming on a much smaller basis that what our perceptions give, a kind that each and every one of us can do.
In the late 90’s I started ramping up the amount of food that I grew on my 1/3 acre property in central Phoenix, AZ ( a 1/3 acre in my case is a lot 80 feet x 160 feet.) Now I didn’t plow everything over and put in long rows of corn and beans. On a completely different tact I relandscaped my yard with edibles, replacing some of the grass areas with garden beds and my two dozen trees with fruit. I actually have planted out over 60 fruit trees inside the space of my 1/3 acre. I do this by keeping the trees small and putting them in hedgerows along the edge of my property. My goal is to have some kind of fruit that is harvestable every month of the year. Currently I’m at about 8 months.
Extreme…perhaps, but it is a hobby that my mom says has gone overboard. The good news is that I eat quite heartily from my yard and a few years back I was making over $1000 per month growing food and flowers to take to the market. Since then however I have reevaluated my goals and primarily grow enough food for me and to share with the people that visit.
OK so you don’t have a 1/3 acre lot. If you listen to the square foot gardener you can grow more that you can eat in 100 square feet. So for a teeny plot in your front or back yard you can raise a lot of food. I have also enrolled the neighbor in letting me plant a row of 8 apple trees in the boundary between his property and mine. Plus we have a great community garden that a friend of mine used to raise a lot of food to take to the market each week. She did great and made a fine living too.
Imagine a community where you walked down the street and found food for the harvesting, where you could grab a bag and collect whatever caught your eye. Such a place, abounding with fruits and vegetables, would magically draw people together simply to harvest dinner. I have been imagining such a community cornucopia for years. And while this botanical utopia may not be right around the corner, we can begin to realize the vision, even if it is only by planting a few fruit trees.
Just where can you plant some food? Grow some basil, a tomatoes or artichokes. There is nothing better than munching on that (insert your vegetable or fruit here) that you just plucked from your yard. Whatever you do, will make a difference.