Urban Farming Inspiration:
Food Revolution Wins and Spring Projects
By Anne-Marie Miller
Spring is a busy time for an urban gardener! It is especially busy in our southern climate because we have to get all those projects done before the HOT weather really kicks in. No one feels like working hard, breaking ground on a new project when it is climbing above 100 degrees Fahrenheit!
One of my projects is my side yard. I really haven’t done anything with it, so it’s not contributing to the homestead at all. I am ready to change that. However, it appears that my side yard is not willing to be so easily conquered. Let me explain: the whole yard is covered with a pretty vine called Vinca minor. It stays green most of the year and is dotted with pretty purple flowers in the spring. Best of all, it doesn’t have to be mowed.
So, what’s the trouble, you ask? Well, there is a sinister creeping ivy that has been winding its way into the landscape. It is strong and determined to overtake everything! Seemingly overnight the invasive tendrils wind their way up the trunks of trees and fallen branches creating monstrous looking ivy creatures. The other day I had my feet planted in the sea of green growth tugging on this aggressive ivy. I paused to look around and thought, “Am I even making a dent in this? Am I even making a difference?” Sometimes that is the way I feel in this “urban farm revolution,” as Greg Peterson calls it.
I love how Greg and the whole Urban Farm team fight in this revolution, working to positively make a difference one class, tree, podcast, tour or article at a time. I am honored to be a part of this team. On that note, I thought I would encourage you to keep on keeping on by sharing some newsworthy happenings that tell me we are indeed making a difference! Then, I will to share some of my spring projects with you. I hope you will share some of your projects with us.
In my state of Texas, bill 1620, which allows all Texas cities to permit up to 6 hens for backyard raising, passed the Senate and is now in the House! Although I usually do not like big government, I have watched my friends spend much time and energy fighting in cities around me for the right to raise a few hens. The fact that this law is up for debate in the capitol shouts volumes about the desire Americans have to humanely raise their own food!
You know when you ask for that organic chicken feed at your local feed store? Well, your purchase is creating a demand. Apparently, it is creating a demand that U.S. growers can’t keep up with. That demand has been increasing every year forcing growers to think twice about organic production. It is also forcing lawmakers to look at the laborious organic certification process. See what a snippet from an article in Farm and Ranch News has to say on the issue:
Increasing consumer demand for organic foods and non-genetically modified organisms (GMOs) led to a sharp rise in organic grain imports in 2016, prompting food manufacturers to explore new incentives for U.S. growers transitioning to organic production, according to a new report from CoBank. While U.S. production of non-GMO crops has risen, domestic production of organic corn and soybeans remains well short of demand. (1)
You and I created that demand. Way to go!
Lastly, I am probably not the only one that was disappointed that labeling of GMO products was not put into effect. However, I bet I am also not the only one that noticed the labeling of non-GMO on bags and boxes on my grocery store shelves. We did that!
I hope this has been an encouragement to you this spring. I know this news, along with The Urban Farm podcasts, have given me the incentive to get started on those hard spring projects!
Now, I want to share some of the projects I am working on with you. If you want more details on any of them let me know in the comments. Also, I would love to hear about your spring projects!
My best garden helper and I just tore out a huge bush so that we could prepare the ground for blueberries! All I had to say was, “I am wanting to plant blueberries in this space.” and he was on board all the way. Love that kid! Blueberries like acidic soil so I am pushing the envelope on this one! Our soil is very alkaline here. My plan is to fill this bed with acid soil mix and then mulch with pine needles from East Texas. I will let you know how it goes. If the blueberries don’t make it then, what the heck, I have another raised bed to plant veggies in. Lemons=Lemonade!
We built a urban sized chicken tractor, which is moving around our property doing the weeding for me! After they have been in place for a few days I just throw some mulch in and voilá, weed free. My daughter has totally taken over the care of the chicks, so that frees up time for me to get these projects done. Love that kid, too!
My kiddos go out daily and snatch blackberries off the bushes and bring them in for us all to try. One of my spring projects is to extend the blackberry bushes all the way to the fence! This means busting sod, which is my least favorite thing to do. One of my favorite sayings is: “I wonder how many plows the settlers broke on this black clay before they decided a few head of cattle was the way to go?” Ugh, hate busting sod!
I have exciting news: I am digging my first swale. I know! That makes me sound like a permaculture Diva. Except that I am digging it with a shovel, by myself, a little bit every day. I call it my permaculture workout. Hey, people pay hard earned money for this kind of workout. How can I convince them to pay to dig my swale? Any suggestions?
After I dig my swale, I am going to prepare the ground for fruit trees in the fall. I am thinking jujubee, paw paw, persimmon and avocado, because nothing I do is normal. No, really, I was originally thinking pear trees until the trees at the community garden succumbed to fire blight. When I say succumbed, I mean that they died, like totally dead sticks in the ground. So, I naturally changed course to something more unusual and livable. Been keeping a close eye on Jake Mace on this one, for sure (Listen to Jake talk about fruit trees on The Urban Farm Podcast)!
My 3 old girls aren’t laying very regularly anymore, so I have 12 new chicks we are raising for fresh eggs! You heard it here first, one appears to be a ROOSTER! Uh, did I mention that I am smack dab in the middle of the city! How will this guy fit into the scheme of things? Funny side note here, my daughter named him Bow to match with the ones she named Frills, Lace and Doily. Naturally, when we found out, she was a he, we had to change his name to the manly Bo instead of the feminine hair bow name. I thought we should name him Sue after Jonny Cash’s song “A Boy Named Sue.” She didn’t get this at all, even after I played her the song. So Bo it is! Stay tuned—you might be surprised at our solution to this soon-to-be loudly crowing problem.
These are some of the fun spring projects I am working on. This is in addition to keeping the status quo with kids (darn it, they are always wanting to be fed), front yard veggie garden, rabbits, chickens, community garden managing (oh, the drama!), bees, teaching (off for the summer, woo hoo!) and last but not least that little trick of a successful marriage!
What are some of your spring projects? How do you manage it all? I would love to hear from you. Tell me more about your projects and let me know if you want more details about mine. Keep on keeping on, we are making a difference one garden at a time!
Anne-Marie or Dash (for the hyphen in her name) is an urban farmer in Dallas, Texas. She raises chickens and rabbits on less than ¼ of an acre. Plus, she has turned her front yard into a large stand-out-in-the neighborhood vegetable garden. In addition to the farming she does on her homestead, she helped create a community garden literally from grassy field to thriving garden. What stands out about her little urban homestead is her determined out of the box approach to overcoming obstacles. You can follow her adventures on her little urban homestead by visiting her blog, BloomWhereYourPlanted.com.