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A Love Affair with Urban Farming
The Response Has Been Very Encouraging
I’m a believer!
I’m a born-again urban farmer and I believe in all the benefits of urban farming and sustainable living.
I’m standing on a soapbox right now and screaming to the heavens….THIS IS A GREAT LIFE!
I’ve written quite a few articles about urban farming and sustainable living and quite frankly, I’m blown away by the response I’ve received. I knew urban farming was a big thing here in Olympia where I live, but I had no idea how many people in other states and countries also believed in the benefits. That makes my heart sing, because I believe our society needs to return to its roots and get back to basics. It should be obvious to the most jaded among you that what we are doing, as a society, ain’t working too well. As a collective, we have complicated the hell out of living, and it really is time to put on the brakes and coast to a stop.
Some of you reading this understand what I’m talking about. Some of you have your own urban farm, so you get it. Some of you are dreaming of it one day, and that’s wonderful. Some of you are just curious.
You’ve heard of it but maybe you don’t know exactly what it means. You’ve heard it used in tandem with “sustainable living” but that just muddies the waters more for you.
Well thankfully I’m here to bring clarity.
Don’t try to thank me. I embarrass easily.
Urban Farming Definition
Let’s not over-think this definition. The definition is in the phrase. Urban farming is the practice of growing, processing and distributing food in a town, city or village. It includes animal husbandry, beekeeping and horticulture.
In other words, if you have a small herb garden or a small veggie garden, or if you have apple trees or raise chickens, you are practicing urban farming. Congratulations!
Me with shaggy hair last summer
Sustainable Living Definition
Sustainable living refers to a lifestyle that is intent on reducing a person’s carbon footprint and reducing the use of the Earth’s natural resources. It is most concerned with finding a natural balance and respecting the relationship between man and the Earth.
I’m reminded of a song by Joni Mitchell and the lyrics “they paved Paradise to put up a parking lot.” In a sustainable living environment, that would not happen.
Put Them Altogether and They Spell…..
Well, they spell our lives, here, in Olympia, Washington, where Bev and I live. We are urban farmers and we practice sustainable living. We are proud of the way we live. I’ll tell you why after I describe our lifestyle.
We live on about 1/8 of an acre within the city limits of Olympia. We actually live in a normal neighborhood, quite like neighborhoods all of you live in. This is not a housing development with restrictions. This is an urban neighborhood with few restrictions. In fact, it is a neighborhood within a city that encourages urban farming and sustainable living. Bravo to Olympia, I say!
We have a large vegetable garden, an herb garden, fruit trees, berry bushes, chickens, rabbits, quail and soon, ducks and goats. Each year we add to our urban farm. Each year we take further steps to lessen our need for energy. We recycle religiously. We practice composting. We have rain barrels. We are actively seeking a balance between our lifestyle and the needs of the environment. We live frugally according to the philosophy of “needs rather than wants” and we are ecstatic.
I am not selling our philosophy but rather explaining it. If it’s not for you, great! If you find it interesting, great! If you would like more information, get in touch with me and I’ll tell you what I know.
Why Do We Do This?
This is going to sound preachy. If so, I apologize in advance. My goal is not to preach but rather inform and encourage. I understand that there are those out there who enjoy creature comforts. They have worked hard all their lives and now they are living comfortably in their 4,000 square foot home with two SUVs in the garage and club memberships. They eat at the finest restaurants because they deserve to do so, dammit. They have played the capitalistic game all their lives and they see nothing wrong with reaping the benefits.
Again, bravo for you!
It’s just not for me.
I’ve got concerns.
I see a planet that is being raped daily. Many of our non-renewable resources are disappearing. Whole forests are disappearing. GMO foods are poisoning us. Laws and regulations are ignored so that the industrial machine can keep on keeping on.
And I feel it’s my responsibility to do my part to counteract that damage.
It’s as simple as that. I’m really not trying to convince anyone that my lifestyle is better than theirs. I don’t debate politics with Republicans and I don’t debate economics with corporate CEOs. This is my way and I leave you to your way, and may we all live in peace.
Do I feel I’m really making a difference? Maybe or maybe not, but I know I have to at least try to be a part of the solution. I have to live with myself, and I don’t like living with a wasteful, self-centered person. So I do what I do.
I go to bed at night knowing that I have tried my best to live in harmony with the Earth. I enjoy the fact that I am eating foods that I grew and raised. I am continuing a tradition that has been passed down by generations, and that makes me feel good and in touch with my roots. If this lifestyle was good enough for my grandparents then it’s good enough for me.
So What Do You Think?
It really is not difficult to do. There is an initial outlay of physical labor, but once the planning is done and the muscles have been exercised, maintaining an urban farm is fairly easy. I spend about an hour a day keeping this place running and functioning smoothly. I know people who watch television four hours each night. I consider my hour farming to be much more worthwhile.
If I’ve piqued your interest then get in touch with me. I’ll be happy to share some thoughts and suggestions with you to get you started. Bev keeps bugging me to start a blog about urban farming. Maybe I’ll do that. Seems like it would be time well-spent.
If you’re ever in our neighborhood, stop by and say hi. I’ll give you a tour. You can feed the chickens and play with the rabbits. I might even make you a fresh smoothie from our berries to quench your thirst.
A Late Addition
I actually wrote this article two weeks ago, but I’ve been a little slow in posting it. Since that time we’ve had some additions to our farm. We have a Nubian goat named Payote. She only has three legs and she’s a doll. I want to rename her Tripod. We also adopted her two babies for the next six weeks until they are old enough to be back on the big farm from whence they came.
In the city we are allowed two miniature goats. We got lucky with Payote. Some birth defect stunted her growth, so she meets the city regulations. When the babies get older we’ll send them back to our friend’s farm and then get ourselves another miniature goat to keep Payote company. We’ll milk them, make cheese and just enjoy their loyal company.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go clean out the goat enclosure. There seems to be an excess of poop in there. J
2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)