Featured Farmer: Sommer from Westhagen Farm
This month’s featured farmer is Sommer H. at Westhagen Farm. She grows a medley of fruits and vegetables on her 20′ x 30′ front yard urban farm to feed her family of five. “Having a garden to me is like experiencing Christmas every day,” Sommer tells us, “I rush down the stairs and out the door to see what new goodies have grown.”
Tell me a little about your urban farm. What is its size? What are you growing?
My Urban Farm is approximately a 20’x30’ area of my front yard. I am currently growing black berries, strawberries, corn, zucchini, crook neck squash, musk melon, watermelon, bell peppers, eggplant, and herbs.
What initially got you interested in urban farming?
Healthy eating and a desire to know where my food comes from
Do you use any organic, permaculture, biodynamic, or other methods?
We originally started with soil purchased from a local farm, but it became too compacted and we could not get our plants to grow past a certain point. We built new beds and filled them with organic soil purchased from Home Depot.
Do you use compost?
We have started composting our own organic material using leftover or spoiled food from our kitchen.
Do you have any urban livestock? Chickens? Bees?
Although I don’t “keep” bees I have planted plenty of bee enticing flowers around my yard to help with pollination.
What do you do with the food you grow?
I have a HUNGRY family of five!
What is your greatest challenge in your farming endeavors?
Pest/bugs, mainly whiteflies. I’ve been able to control a lot of my pest issues with inexpensive shade cloth.
Having a garden to me is like experiencing Christmas every day; I rush down the stairs and out the door to see what new goodies have grown.
Why do you think urban farming is important?
Not only is it a good idea for everyone to know how to grow their own food, but it can bring a community together. Though skeptical at first, our neighbors are showing interest in how we are able to grow food in this heat!
Do you think this is a growing movement?
Yes. As people become more aware of the negative side effects of genetically modified foods, we will see more urban farms created as a protest.
Is urban farming the future of agriculture?
I don’t think urban farming will become the future of agriculture; however, it could influence the agriculture industry to make positive changes.
Do you have any advice for someone just getting started?
Don’t give up, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and have patience.
Anything else you’d like to add?
This is a learning process that can be frustrating at times, but the successes make it worthwhile.