Explore the Joys of Backyard Farming
Backyard Farming is a movement in which ordinary Urban and Suburban folks are turning part of their property into tiny farms. Why, you ask?
Well it turns out that when done correctly, a small parcel of land on one's property can yield a surprisingly large quantity of organic foods. Organic foods are a lot more expensive and tastier, not to mention much healthier. I quickly realized that modern, progressive gardening can be very fun and intellectually stimulating. This style of raising foods differs from basic vegetable gardening in that it uses Permaculture and other cutting edge, eco-friendly techniques that are beginning to change the way Americans think about food.
Backyard Farming is certainly environmentally friendly given that no pesticides or chemical fertilizers are used. Backyard foods can be much more “organic” than certified organic foods from the grocery stores. Certified organic farms still use chemicals, as long as those chemicals are on an approved list. The Backyard farmer does not use pesticides at all, and his fertilizer is compost, hay and beneficial plants grown for “green manure.”
Think about a commercial certified organic gardener with a plot of 10,000 beets. When a beet eating insect moves in to feast, the certified chemicals come out, and can you blame these farmers? They can’t afford to lose a whole crop scheduled to be shipped out to the upscale grocery store. The Backyard farmer mixes his beets in with lots of other vegetables using a style of updated companion planting which confuses insects. The commercial farmer would not be able to efficiently harvest a mixed vegetable jungle.
Keeping things on a small and manageable scale allows backyard farmers to grow foods that are vastly superior in many ways. One principal often used is a no-dig policy where the underlying soil is never disturbed. Mulches like compost and manures are continuously added to the top of the soil and nature is allowed to handle what lies beneath. There are many scientific studies that show how the no-dig style is more productive than tilling, but I’ll not go into the science in this article. What I can vouch for is that it is easier and it works.
Using cutting edge Permaculture ideas, Backyard gardeners delegate more of the gardening chores to Nature, and spend more of their time observing, tweaking and harvesting. Below are some examples of what these folks are able to accomplish in very small spaces and in average suburban neighborhoods.
- Growing all of the produce needed for an entire season
- Raising a small number of chickens for eggs
- Raising Talapia fish using Aquaponics
- Raising Rabbits for meat
- Producing fresh fruit, nuts and berries
- Incorporating food directly into the landscape with a clean, beautiful look.
When I started out 3 years ago, I took a very conservative approach and slowly converted lawn to garden over time. I was able to accomplish thing such as:
- Set up rain barrels to cut down on watering bills
- Set up Compost cages
- Grew tons of Garlic which can be sold in farmers markets
- Grew lots of potatoes, onions, greens, carrots and even some corn
- Learned a lot about Permaculture
- I found it to be so interesting I started a blog http://trybackyardfarming.com
- Realized that it doesn't take a much work as I anticipated, and is fun for the whole family.
Sound interesting? Give it a try and remember: Start small and expand as you feel comfortable. There are lots of resources available out there on Backyard Farming and Permaculture Food Forests. Good luck and Best Wishes!