Summer is a Busy Time on an Urban Farm
A Bit Unusual
I’ve gotten away from writing articles about urban farming. Usually I just write my farming blog and that’s that, but someone asked the other day if I would write another article so here I am.
Truth be told I’m very short on time right now, and that’s because of a variety of reasons, the chief of which is that summer is a busy time on an urban farm.
We just finished the planting this past weekend. I know, I know, we’re late, but oh well. We had about half of it done already and now it’s all in the ground so there you go.
We never got the greenhouse up. Again, we were just too busy, but we did experiment with hay bale gardening, which you can see in the picture, and so far that technique has been very successful.
Truthfully, planting vegetables is an after-thought for us. Our main area of interest on this farm is berry-growing and quail, so the vegetables get whatever time we have left after we tend to our main loves.
The Front Yard
We are lucky to live in a city (Olympia, Washington) which allows homeowners to grow vegetables and fruit in their front yards. Last year we made the decision to get rid of our lawn and grow berries, and we are almost there. We have the entire front yard covered with cardboard and hay, and we have about 90% of the yard planted with different varieties of berries. Some are already bearing fruit. The rest will bear next summer.
I have mowed my last lawn and I can’t tell you how good it feels to say that. I’ve been mowing lawns since, well, for over fifty years. When I was a teen mowing the lawn I considered it a colossal waste of time and I still feel that way. Now our front yard produces fruit, and that fruit will be shared with the community, and ain’t that just too cool? When was the last time you shared your lawn with your neighbors? Exactly!
THE FARMYARD ANIMALS
We currently have over one-hundred quail in the aviaries and over one-hundred in the brooders in the garage. We have twelve chickens, ten rabbits and our two newest additions, running ducks.
Running ducks are hilarious!
As their name suggests, running ducks do not fly. They run! And talk about cheap entertainment…it is worth the price of admission to watch them run around the backyard. We got them and four silky chickens at the same time, as babies, so now those four chickens consider the ducks to be family and where the ducks are the chickens are close by, and it is too adorable.
A month ago I built a farm stand for the front yard, and every Saturday now I sell quail eggs (and chicken eggs when available) from that stand. In addition we sell eggs and quail using Craigslist for advertising, and also sell quail at the Garden and Farm Center nearby. The business is growing and we are encouraged by our success so far this spring.
I also just started going around to restaurants, drumming up business for the eggs, and we are close to securing our first customers that way. Quail are considered a delicacy here in the States, so we can charge what the market allows, which is six bucks a dozen which I still find amazing for miniature eggs but oh well, I’m not arguing with it at all. Bev’s oldest son has a small farm, and he and his wife raise goats and make goat cheese, which they sell at farmer’s markets….anyway, they are going to sell our eggs at the markets along with their cheese, or at least they say they will, maybe, maybe not, we’ll see.
It’s all good!
AND THEN SOMEONE ASKED
“Good God, Bill, where do you get your energy and work ethic?” And in truth the work ethic comes from my parents, but it also comes from a need that runs deep inside of me. You see, I’m a compulsive-obsessive personality, and many of you know I’m an alcoholic with ten years of sobriety, so taking on a task like this is my way of staying busy and keeping my brain occupied. I’d rather do this than drink myself into oblivion, so there you go! For me, this urban farm is self-survival, as is writing.
Well, next weekend I’m building a grape arbor that will span the patio, and then I turn my attention to the pond I’ll be installing for the ducks. Ooh, and I want to try my hand at growing red worms…or is that raising red worms? Anyway, I want to bond with those squiggly little buggers, so wish me luck.
I also have to call on more restaurants to see if I can get more egg business, and then there is…..
Well, then it will be time to get ready for winter, which always brings a new set of problems and needs, but it’s all a labor of love so there you have it.
THE THING IS
Bottom line: Bev and I believe in the urban farm movement. We think it is crucial that Americans learn to return to their roots. We think it’s better for the environment and we think the economy is demanding that we do so for economic survival. We believe that urban farms promote community and we believe strong community ties help everyone in the long run.
A green lawn has never done any of that stuff!
Do we make a difference?
I read a fascinating book a couple months ago titled “No Impact Man.” It was written by a guy named Colin Beavan and it chronicles his attempt to live an entire year, in Manhattan, having zero impact on the environment.
After the experiment, Mr. Beavan came to several conclusions. He states that he believes it is practically impossible for any citizen living in an industrialized society to have zero environmental impact. The amount of negative effect we all have is stunning, in fact, and would be depressing if we actually gave it some thought.
He also concluded that even if every citizen in the United States managed, somehow, to live a “no impact” lifestyle, it really wouldn’t have much effect on the world or the environment simply because there are about six billion people who have to impact the environment just to survive, which leads one to conclude that my meager efforts at urban farming are a complete waste of time.
I refuse to believe that! To believe that is to give up, and I don’t have an ounce of “give up” in me.
We have to try!
We have to give a shit!
Do you really want to live in a world where nobody gives a damn?
I read somewhere the other day that 62% of Americans don’t know how to change a tire on their car. I find that amazing and depressing. I also read that 85% of Americans prefer to buy GMO food at a cheaper price than organic food at a higher price. I find that depressing and demoralizing.
Great change begins with a small group of determined people.
That is my hope!
Join me on my urban farming blog!
- The Wonders of Rabbit Poop – The Urban Farm Yard Sanctuary
How’s that for a title? Get your attention? I’m not a scientist, horticulturist, a botanist or any of those other “ists.” I’m just an urban farmer and writer, blindly stumbling through the learning curve, trying to find what works. I couldn’t tell yo
So That’s Where We Are at This Moment
You can find us in Olympia, Washington, on our urban farm, giving a shit.
In the end, our little social experiment may not have any positive consequences on society, but it makes us feel better for trying.
Anyway, I have to get going. Summer is, after all, a busy time on an urban farm.
If you’re ever in the area, stop by and say howdy. And feel free to eat some of those berries out front.
2016 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)