397: Michael Bell on Part Time Urban Farming.
Being bit by the urban farming bug and loving it.
Michael is a Physical Education teacher and father of four who in April of 2016, bought a half-acre of nonresidential zoned land a mere 6 miles from downtown Dallas. He started clearing small 1000-foot sections using a weed eater and billboard signs. That Fall he planted his first 30-inch bed with Sala Nova and a few cherry tomatoes and became hooked.
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He now has 67 twenty-five-foot beds focusing on greens, carrots, beets and a couple of other veggies. He hopes to transition from full time teacher to full time farmer in a couple of years.
In This Podcast:
He was starting off on a vacant property with lots of Johnson Grass, almost no money, and no way to cut it down and remove it, yet this was not going to stop Michael Bell from building his urban farm. He got creative and found a resource to not only help remove the grass but turn it into an asset and deep rich soil in one season. Relying on his creativity, he now has a half-acre farm and more customers than produce. All this and he only farms part-time!
Listen in and learn about:
- Buying his farm on his birthday for the exact amount of his inheritance
- Trying to get rid of 6 foot Johnson grass on his property with a weed eater
- Not having enough money to lay out tarps and finding an alternate option
- Finding that the grass was gone and the soil was soft enough to almost lose his shovel
- Making his farm ready for 67 beds
- Loving to farm ever since he was young
- Where his inspiration comes from, including Curtis Stone
- Determining that he was going to do what Curtis does and make a living at it
- Teaching for sixteen years and he wants to do something new
- Working on his farm without any water and making a deal with his neighboring church
- Having more demand than he has supply
- A marketing trick to help promote your farming business
- Another trick to get your customers to help promote your business
- Why he does not need, or want, to go to a farmers market
- His goals in the future which is focused on farming
- Getting help from his kids on the farm property
- Veggie fest and hoping to inspire more local urban farmers in Dallas
- Not being worried at all about losing customers and having buyers that want him to grow more
- Why he thinks starting on 1000 feet would be a great start
- Adjusting his plans to counter for the extreme heat
As well as:
His failure – The tough summer that killed his crops
His success – Taking a nothing piece of dirt and turning it into a working farm
His drive – Regret – he does not want to have any regrets at the end of his life, and he does not want to teach anymore he wants to do what he loves
His advice – If you have a passion at something, you can make money at it
Michael’s Book recommendations:
by Curtis Stone
YouTube Channel: The Urban Farmer Curtis Stone
How to reach Michael:
To learn more about more about Growing Your Own Food
And to see the I’m an Urban Farmer line
Note: You can also find these books mentioned above at one of our favorite local independent bookstores and have the satisfaction of knowing you are supporting a small business.