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The Micro Farm Project | Small Urban Farm

Updated on January 12, 2016

What is The Micro Farm Project?

The Micro Farm Project is a beautiful place where veggies, flowers, fruit, and herbs grow and our small livestock animals provide us with fun and food. We are creating a tiny farm on our quarter-acre urban lot and are always experimenting with ways for our family to become more self-reliant and efficient. Our practices are slowly becoming more sustainable, replenishing our little piece of land, our health and our spirits. We invite others to join us and learn step-by-step to create a healthier, more self-sufficient lifestyle.

Our family is on a mission to create a greater connection to our food sources and the things we use by growing and making them ourselves. Life is grand, and we are enjoying the fruits of our labor. What we learn, I teach to others, spreading the good life around.

The girls show off zucchini from our first garden.
The girls show off zucchini from our first garden.

History of the Micro Farm Project

When my husband and I purchased our pie-shaped lot in the heart of north Phoenix, the backyard was dust and rocks, but we knew it had potential. For several years, when the kids were very small, little was done to improve the yard. Then in 2009, my husband was deployed to serve in the Navy Reserve in the Middle East. To pass the time while he was away, I began to break ground in the yard. Starting on the north side of the patio, I used a large tiller to turn over the mineral dirt and punch through a layer of calcium called 'caliche' that ran about two feet under the ground. Good friends helped me to run an irrigation system and turn the desert into my first garden. During a second deployment, I installed two more gardens and a small lawn.

Then I had an epiphany. Looking at an iconic farm scene on a carton of grocery store eggs, I realized that the little farmhouse with the red barn, chickens roaming freely and the sun rising over the green fields as pictured in the scene barely exists anymore and how much I longed for the simple life. I began in earnest to gather knowledge about food production and preservation, composting, how to collect and conserve water, solar cooking practices, and small livestock husbandry. I obtained certification as a Master Gardener and absorbed as much knowledge as I could from books, classes and the internet.

I have included the word "project" in the name of our tiny farm because trial and error have taught me more than anything else. The farm has grown slowly and improvements are made constantly as we learn from experience. Today, our micro farm includes two working compost bins, five gardens that all grow food (as well as pretty flowers,) 5 grape vines, seven fruit trees, a fire pit and solar oven, 20 chickens, 2 Nigerian mini goats, 5 turkeys and 10 Coturnix quail (not to mention a Black Lab and a pet fish.) All of these plants and animals require water, which is scarce in the desert, so we collect air conditioner condensate from our roof and have large wells with French drains around our trees.

Projects that are currently in the works are a solar heat retention oven, a water harvesting and grey-water system, an aquaculture pond and a new goat pen. The adventure continues!

Who Lives at the Farm?

Our little farm is a family endeavor. I have to mention that my husband is a very manly man, and it is a good thing because our farm is teaming with estrogen! Of its forty-six inhabitants, six are male (my husband, two turkeys, 2 quail, and one Siamese fighting fish names "namaste.")

All of these inhabitants make for a lot of work, as well as a ton of fun! Something is always going on around here, whether it be tending to a sick animal, building a new pen, experimenting with a new jam recipe, or the constant cleaning that is necessary to keep our abode a pleasant place to live. We all share a quarter acre, so it is a blessing that we enjoy each others' company.

Key Components of the Farm

The Gardens

Our property has five gardens that all grow food (six if you include the containers on my patio.) Living in the low desert of Arizona, we have very alkaline mineral soil that contains very little organic matter. Our property also had caliche, which is a layer of calcium that builds up in the soil and can be as hard as concrete. Removing the caliche was the first obstacle that I had to overcome in order to grow healthy plants on my property. Strenuous effort, a heavy-duty tiller and a pick axe accomplished the task.

My next obstacle was overcoming the desert climate and soil conditions to create an oasis in the desert. There is a saying that gardening in Phoenix is easy; all you have to do is make the soil and make the water. This is so true! Before planting, I had an irrigation system installed and plenty of organic matter was added to the native soil. We have two short growing seasons per year. To maintain the soil, at the end of each season, old plants are pulled up and added to the compost pile and finished compost is added to the garden. I also mulch heavily with straw and compost to retain moisture in the soil and add more organic material. After several years of following this routine, I have noticed that the pH has decreased slightly and my soil texture has improved significantly.

I am always experimenting with new crops, but there are a few vegetables and herbs that are grown in my garden year after year. Every day staples, such as herbs, onions of various sorts, potatoes and bell peppers are wonderful to have right outside the door, and save me lots of trips to the grocery store. The tomatoes in our markets are terrible, so I grow plenty of them during the summer and can the excess to use during the winter. We also enjoy growing jalapenos and other types of hot peppers. Squash, eggplant and zucchini are summer staples, as are broccoli, radishes, carrots, cabbage and cauliflower in the winter. Swiss chard and fennel are also cool season regulars. Strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are perennial favorites to be eaten fresh and for making jam.

This year, I grew Christmas Lima beans and green beans alongside seven rows of corn. The beans fix nitrogen in the soil, which the corn needs an abundance of to grow. In return, the corn acted as a trellis for the beans. Next year, I will add squash to the patch and have a full-fledged "Three Sisters" garden.

Living in Arizona, of course we have cacti in the garden. This particular cactus is a night bloomer. Flowers open after dark and by mid-morning the next day, they wilt and fall. It is very lovely if you can catch it at the right moment.

One of the easiest and most unique items that we grow is a a crop of Christmas Lima beans. A photo of these lovely beans is featured prominently on the cover of "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle," a wonderful book by Barbara Kingsolver that chronicles her family's mission to eat only food grown on their property or purchased locally for one year.

Sown in the spring, each Christmas Lima plant produces and abundance of pods. I allow the pods to dry right on the vine, watching carefully to harvest them before they pop open and drop their seeds. When the pods are dried, I remove the entire plant from the garden, cutting the vine into pieces for the compost pile. The pods are split and the beans are removed, to be stored in glass jars through which their lovely colors are visible and their storage is decorative as well as functional. Much like other beans, individual servings are soaked overnight as an addition to soups and various mixed-bean dishes. When served alone, they have a delicious, nutty flavor. A handful of beans is always saved to sow the next season for a new crop. Try them in your garden this summer!

A Fun Book to Read and Christmas Lima Bean Sources

"Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" is an engaging and informative book by Barbara Kingsolver. The story takes the reader on a journey with the author's family, which has set out on a mission to grow most of their own food and to purchase items that they couldn't grow from local sources for one year. The account is inspiring, often funny, and sometimes poignantly emotional. I highly recommend this book for those who are interested in a greater connection to and understanding of our food sources, and as an entertaining read for the gardener, environmentalist or foodie.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

I was initially attracted to this book because my favorite beans were on the cover, and I was so glad that I picked it up and read it. The story inspired me to create my own farm, and to become less dependent on the current industrialized food system. I don't have as much land as Barbara has, but I will do as much as I am able on my quarter-acre city lot!

 
Dirt School
Dirt School

Dirt School

Here in Phoenix, Az, we have three short growing seasons. Like most places, we have a cool season in the fall, a warm season in the spring, and we also have a monsoon season during the summertime. When a friend donated 5 wooden tile crates to the farm, we set them up in the front yard and filled them with soil. The community was invited to join us in planting the gardens and learning how to grow vegetables over an entire growing season. 18 people signed up, and Dirt School was born! The students are learning everything from setting up a garden and irrigation, planting, watering ,feeding, dealing with pests and disease, frost and sun protection, and finally, harvesting!

The Compost Piles

Compost bins play a central role in a gardening endeavors, providing a sustainable, free source of organic matter and nutrients with which we amend our soil. Garden waste, weeds, and kitchen scraps are added to the compost pile, where they break down into humus. This humus is added to the garden, providing the nutrients to grow more plants. The vegetables and herbs that are grown in the garden are eventually consumed, and the leftover parts of the plants that are not eaten are thrown into the compost pile to continue the cycle. Chickens have a part in this cycle, as well. More on that later.

Two city garbage bins serve as our composters. Each bin has the bottom removed and holes drilled into the sides for aeration. One bin receives new waste material until it is full. It is then set aside to allow bacteria and insects to do the job of composting the pile. Meanwhile, the second bin receives waste until it is full. It is then also set aside to compost. The first bin has finished composting by this time, and it is emptied into the garden and set up to receive fresh waste.

To achieve proper aeration that is necessary for composting, a pile needs to be turned regularly. I am a very small woman, and turning the compost bin can be daunting. In order to make the job easier, I spread a piece of permeable landscape fabric on the ground under the bin. The fabric is then folded up around the bin until it is time to turn the pile, at which time I spread the fabric out and lift the bin off of the top of the pile. A second piece of fabric is spread out next to the first, and the bin is placed on top of it. Using a pitchfork or shovel, the top layer of composting material is returned to the bin. Once the pile is small enough, I use the fabric to lift it and dump it into the bin. If the material is fully composted, I drag the pile to the garden and spread it around.

Because we live in a desert, the compost pile needs to be watered regularly. In order to ensure that the pile will remain moist, a line is run from our automatic irrigation system to the compost bin. Every time the garden gets watered, so does the compost.

Chickens

We don't watch much television; our attention is often captured by the antics of the hens that roam our yard, feasting on bugs and vegetation (including the container plants on my patio.) Their simple lives consist of eating, sleeping, and maintaining their place in the pecking order. The latter provides us with a great deal of amusement. I never knew how mesmerizing poultry could be! From their very first day in the brooder as tiny chicks, we watched as they hopped around, flapping their tiny wings and falling asleep standing up, sometimes falling face first into the feeder when they just couldn't keep their little eyes open. We cheered them on as they grew and began to fly up to the roosting bar that was placed one foot high in the brooder. On the day that the brooder was placed in the coop with the door open, we waited expectantly for them to venture timidly out into their new home. Now that they are grown, they are our constant companions in the yard.

Each hen has a name and a distinct personality. Sitting on the patio with a cup of coffee in the morning with the chickens roaming the yard is my favorite part of the day and the realization of a key piece of my dream to bring the small farm home.

Hens really put the fun in functional! Besides being friends, the chickens provide some important benefits on our farm. They are wonderful at converting kitchen scraps, weeds and bugs into tasty eggs in all colors: white, brown, tan, pink and even blue. Their waste and bedding are a wonderful addition to the compost, adding both "green" nitrogen and "brown" carbon that are necessary to maintain a healthy pile.

As part of our sustainability plan, the chickens eat plants and bugs in the garden, which they turn into waste and eggs. The waste is added to the compost pile, which eventually feeds the garden so that we are able to grow more healthy vegetables. Eggs are consumed by our family, and the eggshells are crushed and fed back to the chickens. The calcium in the ingested shells ensures that the next batch of eggs will have strong shells. It is never-ending circle that benefits humans, the garden, and the chickens.

Hello from the Minis!
Hello from the Minis!

Nigerian Mini Dairy Goats

In 2012, we adopted two Nigerian mini goats. These adorable girls provide fresh milk for our family to drink, as well as to make cheese, soap, fudge, and whatever else we discover that can be made with goat milk. Milking is accomplished by training a goat to stand on a milking platform, at which time they learn that they will receive a treat (which also distracts them during the milking process.) Many people are surprised to find out that we only milk once per day, which, if performed like clockwork, maximizes the amount of milk that the goat will produce (and relieves the goat's discomfort at having full udders!) One of our goats, Phoenix Rose, is currently pregnant, due in February. The other, Annie Oakley, is a momma. Her doe, Calamity Jane, provides us with all sorts of entertainment!

The goats eat alfalfa hay and sweet feed. We also add some Top Goat feed to provide extra nutrition when they are in milk. I did not realize how much milking took out of them until one of our does started to get shaky on the milk stand. The addition of some added calcium and other minerals has helped her tremendously.

Friends and family came together to help us build a dedicated goat enclosure. We used to keep the goats in the chicken run, but our challenge was to keep them out of the chicken feed, which could upset their stomachs. Now the goats have their own pen, with room to roam! They love to climb, so we have set up some tires and play structures to jump on, including a goat surfboard.

The pen is goat-proof so that they don't wander the farm and browse the gardens and landscaping. They will eat anything, including the wreath that I had hanging on the fence! But, contrary to popular belief, goats have sensitive stomachs and should be restricted to eating hay, feed and a few occasional treats. Of all things, one of their favorite treats is cornstalks, which don't break down very easily in the compost pile, so I am more than happy to give them to the goats.

Photo credit: Laura Denyes via The Micro Farm Project
Photo credit: Laura Denyes via The Micro Farm Project

Sheep

Through a fortuitous stroke of fate, our farm has acquired a Dorper lamb named Eleanor. A family friend's daughter received this little beauty as a Christmas present. If you are thinking that a lamb is a strange gift, so thought the child's mother. She contacted us to ask if we would be willing to adopt the lamb, and even though I knew little about sheep, I couldn't refuse. The plan was to foster Eleanor until we could find a suitable home amongst our farms-y social network. We picked her up on a cold, December evening and I carried her home in a towel. During that fateful drive home, I fell head over heels in love and I knew that we would find a way to keep her.

No information of any kind was given to us concerning the lamb's breed, age, or dietary needs. A knowledgeable friend from Wish We Had Acres Farm took a look at her tummy and discovered that the umbilical cord was still attached, indicating that her age was most likely less than one month. We tried to feed her goat milk, the closest alternative to her own mother's milk that we had on hand, but she refused to drink it. I grew concerned that she was dehydrating. When I found myself home alone on New Year's Eve, I spent the evening cuddling Eleanor and teaching her to drink from a bowl. At first, she sucked the water right up her nose, but eventually learned to purse her lips and sip noisily, as through a straw. My concern about dehydration was abated, and my thoughts turned to figuring out how and what to feed her. It was the New Year's holiday, and the feed stores were closed, so I grabbed various types of food from our goat and rabbit supply to test out feeding her.

She refused it all: sweet feed, alfalfa hay, and alfalfa pellets. Meanwhile, I turned the unused goat milk into cheese, and began to add the whey to her water dish so that she would receive a little bit of sustenance. It occurred to me that she only had a few tiny teeth on the bottom of her mouth, and that she would need something soft to chew. I grabbed a handful of rolled oats from the oatmeal jar and held it up to her mouth. She began to eat greedily. Success! She would not starve before I could get to the feed store to buy the appropriate feed for a tiny lamb.

At first, Eleanor was very lonely. As a herd animal, she needed others of her kind. I had hoped that the goats would adopt her, but they instead acted like ill-behaved bullies. Until we acquired another lamb, she was allowed to live in the house with us. Her loneliness was apparent, however, as she followed me everywhere I went and bleated loudly when she couldn't see me. I quickly came to understand the line in the song "Mary Had a Little Lamb" that says, "Everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go!" I had a constant shadow and clattering hooves behind me at all times!

After doing some extension research online, I believe that she is a Dorper lamb. This variety is bred for mutton, and can grow as large as 220 pounds. It is hard to believe that our tiny Eleanor will soon be a 200-pounder. Dorpers have hair instead of wool, which is shed in the summer without the need for sheering. I have learned that sheep cannot have copper, which is a necessary element for goats, so they must be housed separately.

Photo credit: The Micro Farm Project
Photo credit: The Micro Farm Project

A friend for Eleanor

We found companion for Eleanor, a Blackbelly Ram named Oliver. He is also hair sheep, similar to Dorpers. Both kinds of sheep are mutton sheep, and from what I have read they can be crossbred, so that is our plan!

He was five days old when we got him, so he needed to be trained to drink from a bottle. This was a real challenge! We were unsuccessful in training Eleanor, but luckily, she learned to drink from a bowl very quickly. Thankfully, Oliver got the hang of it quickly so that he was able to get the nourishment that he needed from the goat milk that we fed to him.

As the goats matured, we had to separate them into their own pens to prevent Eleanor from becoming pregnant too soon. The two pens are adjoined, however, so that they can see each other and touch through the fence.

Oliver, the Blackbelly ram
Oliver, the Blackbelly ram

This is Oliver, all grown up! He is a very friendly fellow who comes to the fence for a scratch when we are nearby. Despite his sunny disposition, we observe one rule at all times, which is 'never turn your back on a ram.' His instinct is to butt, which he does with gusto! Although he typically butts his water pail and the toys that we give him, and has never butted a family member, we are cautious due to his large size and manly horns!

The turkeys "pre-season" themselves in the oregano patch.
The turkeys "pre-season" themselves in the oregano patch.

Turkeys

Turkeys are temporary visitors to our farm. Unlike the hens, these birds are raised for meat. Though they are friendly and we enjoy them while they inhabit our yard, we try not to become too attached as their stay will only be four to six months long. The children can't resist naming them, though they are encouraged not to give them endearing monikers. Their namesakes are villains in history or literature, or the names of food, such as Sammy (short for sandwich.) The turkeys are larger and messier than the chickens, and they prefer to be near us, on the porch and the patio furniture. They consume a lot of feed, even after eating grass and garden plants all day long. Within a few months, they grow from a couple of ounces to between 25 and 40 pounds! Having fresh turkey for the holidays is definitely worth the trouble to raise them. Additionally, like the chickens, their waste becomes part of the compost pile. and they help to keep the pest population under control in the gardens.

Coturnix Quail

We currently have eleven Coturnix quail, also known as Japanese or Bible quail. These docile little birds produce an average of an egg each day in exchange for very little feed. The eggs are lovely, delicious, healthy and about a quarter of the size of a large chicken egg. We recently purchased an incubator and will attempt to hatch a few eggs to expand our little flock.

Our plan is to increase the numbers sufficiently enough to obtain meat from the quail. While I don't relish the idea of processing the birds, I look forward to having a renewable source of meat on our farm.

Quail eggs are small, but mighty!

Benefits of Quail Eggs

  • Nutrition 4X higher than chicken eggs
  • 5X the iron & potassium
  • Packed with calcium, protein, A & B vitamins
  • No "bad" cholesterol (LDL)
  • High in "good" cholesterol (HDL)
  • Do not cause allergies (for people who are allergic to chicken eggs)
  • It takes less feed to produce a pound of quail eggs than a pound of chicken eggs

Solar Oven

Arizona is a leader in the solar power industry, and you can imagine why. Here in Phoenix, we average 325 sunny days per year! To save energy (and the money spent on our electric bill,) we harness the power of the sun to cook a good portion of our meals. Solar cooking has many advantages. It is environmentally benign and cooks food at a lower, healthier temperature. It does not heat up the kitchen in the summer and is very easy to use, working much like a slow cooker. Currently we use a portable solar box cooker, but have plans in the works to build a permanent heat retention solar oven.

A solar box cooker is very simple to make using items that you may already have around the house. To learn more about constructing and using a solar cooker, download an informative PDF booklet at http://solarcooking.org/plans.

How to Make, Use and Enjoy Solar Cookers

The Kitchen

The kitchen is the hub of our household, the place where meals are enjoyed, projects are made, and the harvest is preserved. We have a lovely six-and-a-half foot farm table that does double duty as a dining set and workspace. Since we are unable to have a root cellar in the desert, we store the harvest in a commercial fridge and two freezers During the summer months, tomatoes and fruits are canned, garlic and onions are braided, and herbs are dried for storage in the pantry.

Throughout the year, vegetables are blanched, packaged using our Food Saver vacuum sealer, and frozen. The Food Saver has been a wonderful addition to our kitchen. Vegetables stored using the vacuum sealer stay fresh in the freezer for a very long time, retaining their original color, texture and flavor. And it is much easier to use than the pressure canner!

Advantages of Using a Food Saver Vacuum Sealer

FoodSaver V3880 Vacuum Sealing System
FoodSaver V3880 Vacuum Sealing System

The Food Saver has taken our food preservation projects to a whole new level. Instead of canning low acid foods in a pressure canner, I simply blanch and freeze them. The vacuum sealer is also wonderful for preserving breads, muffins and small cakes, which I can pull out of the freezer to serve on busy days or when unexpected guests arrive. For hiking or road trips, dried fruits and granola stay fresh in small, portable packages. Dried and fresh herbs are easily frozen in serving-sized pouches. When my parents travel to Turkey, they bring back large bags of saffron and curry powder, which I repackage using the Food Saver for storage in the freezer.

One item that I particularly like to package using the Food Saver is vanilla beans that I purchase in bulk on Amazon. Vanilla beans are very expensive to buy in the grocery store, and they add a layer of flavor to baked items and jams

 

Vanilla Beans

Amazon is a great source for high quality beans at a great price. Vanilla beans are very expensive to buy in the grocery store, and they add a layer of flavor to baked items and jams that typical vanilla extract just can't achieve. I use vanilla beans to make a delicious vanilla sauce, vanilla infused liqueurs, and homemade vanilla extract.

Vanilla extract is very simple to make. Fill a 16-oz jar (or two 8-oz jars) nearly full with high quality vodka. Recycled jars work fine as long as they are clean and have a lid. Split fourteen vanilla beans down the middle with a sharp knife and scrape out the seeds and pulp. Refrigerate the pulp in a small jar or pouch made with a Food Saver Vacuum Sealer for use in other recipes. Submerge the empty pods in the vodka and close the jar. Set the jar in a cool, dark place and leave it alone for 5 weeks. After 5 weeks, check the jar. If the vodka has turned dark brown, the extract is ready! If it is still light brown, leave it alone for another week. To prepare the extract for use, strain it and use a funnel to pour the liquid into a jar with a thin neck that is easy to pour. This makes a wonderful holiday gift when packaged in a pretty, decorative jar.

Straw Bale & Pallet Garden

This year, after the turkeys were "processed," we removed the turkey pen and cleared the ground underneath it to create a new garden. I figured that the turkeys had been fertilizing the soil all summer, so why not make use of it? Around the garden, I built walls with straw bales, which I covered with compost. I then built a second wall out of wooden pallets, and filled the pallets with soil and compost. After running a drip irrigation system all the way around the garden, food and flowers were planted in the ground, the straw, and the pallets. During the winter months, we will grow cool season vegetables in this garden. Then, in the spring, we will tear down the garden, throw the straw in the compost bins or use it as mulch, and set the turkey pen back up for our next batch of birds. For now, it's a pretty addition to our farm.

Tour de Coops 2012

This year our farm was featured on the Fourth Annual Tour de Coops, organized by volunteers of the Valley Permaculture Alliance. The tour was created in response to the growing interest in urban livestock. On the day of the tour, the farm had approximately 300 visitors, and our family had lots of fun giving tours of the property and answering questions about our livestock, solar ovens, gardens and so forth. For more information about Tour de Coops and general info about urban chickens, click on the banner.

Our girls with THEIR girls!
Our girls with THEIR girls!

We are enjoying the journey to greater self-reliance and the creation of our Micro Farm. I hope that you enjoyed reading our story, and are inspired to grow something of your own! Use the comments section below to tell me about your own projects or to ask me questions. Read our lenses to learn about how we take care of our chickens, preserve the harvest and run our farm. Thank you for taking the time to visit us!

More Info

Here are some places we like on the web. If you have a related website that you would like to share, send us a message with a link to your site and we will post it here. Kindly link back to this lens from your website, too!

Thanks for stopping by. I would love to hear from you. Share your homestead or urban farm ideas here. If you have a related website that you would like to share, please post a link. Kindly link back to this lens from your website in return.

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    • microfarmproject profile image
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      microfarmproject 3 years ago

      @DawnRae64: Our Facebook handle is micro.farm.project. We also have a webiste: TheMicroFarmProject.com. Thanks for stopping by and for your kind comments.

    • DawnRae64 profile image

      Dawn 3 years ago from Maryland, USA

      First of all, thank you to your husband for his service to our country. I am appreciative.

      I LOVE this lens and am so thankful to RenaissanceWoman2010 for introducing us today. I am hanging on every word and have about a million questions I could ask. Do you have a facebook or blog I can follow? I'm off to read your strawberry lens next.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 3 years ago from United States

      Wow! There really is a lot right here in this one article. I bet if I come back tomorrow, I would find a whole new focus. Very interesting and in-depth.

    • microfarmproject profile image
      Author

      microfarmproject 3 years ago

      @Diana Wenzel: Thank you! I needed that this morning. The farm life is wonderfully rewarding, but we had a hard night. Just keep swimming, as they say.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 3 years ago from Colorado

      Amazing what can be done on a small piece of land. Love the diversity and interconnectedness of your many micro farm projects. Especially enjoyed learning about quail eggs. I want to grow some of those Christmas beans. When I read Kingsolver's book, I never realized it was beans featured in the cover photo. Looking forward to your next project. You are really setting such a tremendous example for all of us. Very inspiring!

    • steveffeo lm profile image

      steveffeo lm 3 years ago

      Very nice lens, I like how you break things down and give further places to go and learn more. It is my goal to have a homestead also in the future. I use the Mittleider method for gardening and have great results, purchased a Sun Oven though a bit pricey but it should last for 30+ years if I take care of it. Have not raised any animals yet, frankly I am afraid I would become to attached to them. Next adventure is Alternative Energy Great lens

    • TheCozyDinosaur profile image

      TheCozyDinosaur 4 years ago

      This is wicked inspiring. It is amazing to see what you have created.

    • ashleydpenn profile image

      ashleydpenn 4 years ago

      Great idea. Living the dream!

    • profile image

      Scott A McCray 4 years ago

      Outstanding! Moving toward my own Midi-Farm project...inspirational.

    • Girlwiththorns profile image

      Girlwiththorns 4 years ago

      What a great project :)

    • profile image

      laurenrich 4 years ago

      I love your lens. It is very informative and interesting. You have great pictures. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      drewcostello 4 years ago

      Awesome lens. Can't wait to read more. :)

    • uneasywriter lm profile image

      uneasywriter lm 4 years ago

      Great lens. Looks like you have a fantastic green thumb! Thanks

    • Carmel Aaron profile image

      Carmel Aaron 4 years ago

      Fantastic job, Fantastic life, Fantastic lens. I love it!!!

      Thanks so much for sharing your life's success with us.

    • rattie lm profile image

      rattie lm 4 years ago

      Well all I can say is that I am insanely jealous. What a wonderful lifestyle you have created for your family (plus your extended family!). This is how we all should be living.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      What an amazing place! I so enjoyed reading about how you grew the farm out of the desert.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      It looks like you have created an amazing micro farm and you have a beautiful family. Thanks for sharing the inspiring photos and ideas. As a fellow urbanite and edible gardener, I always like to see how others do similar things. I also have an urban homestead, Hanbury House, and I found you via Motivation Monday Link Party.

    • celmara profile image

      celmara 4 years ago

      Wow, what an inspiring lens. You family and your farm are so adorable! I grew up on a farm so I know how fun and rewarding it is to grow your own plants and animals.

    • Mariel-JD profile image

      Mariel-JD 4 years ago

      Congratulations on a very impressive project! I know what you mean about chooks (that's Aussie for "hens") having personalities - I kept a couple at the last place I lived, where I had the space. Interested to read about quail eggs - I hadn't realised what a great source of food they are!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Very interesting and so productive! I'm sure I can learn a lot from you! Up here in the North East it seems like we have about 10 sunny days a year, but we are still wanting to go solar at least a little!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      That is awesome. I work in Philadelphia and I have seen a micro farm in the North Philly neighborhood by a group of Temple students. So exciting. God bless your farm.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I loved reading about your micro-farm, Kari. What a wonderful life you have with your family. It was so interesting to learn how everything works. I wish you continued success with this sustainable project.

    • Countryluthier profile image

      E L Seaton 4 years ago from Virginia

      Great job! I will return time and time again to re-read. COUNTRYLUTHIER blessed.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I can't wait to read more of your blog - Thanks so much for joining in this week!

      Claudia

    • GardenerDon profile image

      Gardener Don 4 years ago

      Wow - I thought I was a gardener! Nothing compared to you guys. Not so sure on the Quail eggs though....

    • MelanieKaren profile image

      Melanie Wilcox 4 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      I thoroughly enjoyed this lens. You and your family are awesome! I learned a lot, and now, I must have quail eggs!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      What a great share! It sounds like you have a lot of great things going on at that farm!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thank You for your great inspirationsl story. We are discussing the best place to do 4 Square Gardening. We are in south Tx. The same problems with soil and water and sun. Also we have rock and a lot of cedar trees hence the problem with where to put the garden. Also we have rattlesnakes. but the dogs find them for us.

    • suepogson profile image

      suepogson 4 years ago

      Wow - your produce looks amazing. Did you grow that cabbage? And I love the goats.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      You grow girl! Great job becoming more self sufficient on your micro farm :) Thanks for sharing this on The HomeAcre Hop! So glad to have you join me :) Can't wait to see what you have to share next week!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Very informative! Thank you! I just started composting last summer and then ripped up the backyard patio (we live in a townhome) to make more room for a garden this coming summer. I like the idea of an automatic watering system...which we'll have to install since there isn't one in the back.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Great information and story. I'm sharing this on my blog and Facebook this week, and would love having you share your story on my blog as part of my Homestead Highlight Series. You can visit me at the Backyard Farming Connection!

    • profile image

      Auriel 4 years ago

      Great post.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 4 years ago

      Totally sending some LUV your way - you micro-farmers rock! And what a great family you have created. Pinned to my "how does your garden grow" board and blessed.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Hi, so enjoyed the info. I lived in Yuma 10 years so understand the climate. Now am in WI with a different challenge, winter. Currently have khaki campbell ducks which lay fantastically, love them. Also have a garden, compost ,can, freeze, and enjoy. Your quail sound interesting. Bugs are a problem, but I have had chickens and they tend to tear things up too much. I'd love to turn my whole yard into a mini farm.

    • profile image

      BarbaraCasey 5 years ago

      Great information for us wannabe urban farmers. Quail eggs, huh?

    • Lynda Makara profile image

      Lynda Makara 5 years ago from California

      Blessed by a SquidAngel

    • Rural Farming profile image

      Rural Farming 5 years ago

      that is great for you guys!

    • Sean Carey profile image

      Sean Carey 5 years ago

      Wow! So much information. I will have to come back to your lenses to read more! Glad to see people like you out there making this good stuff happen. :)

    • Anthony Altorenna profile image

      Anthony Altorenna 5 years ago from Connecticut

      I really enjoyed visiting your Micro Farm Project. From chickens to cactus, it is amazing to see how much you have artfully packed into a small suburban lot!

    • KandH profile image

      KandH 5 years ago

      Well done ... very inspirational - thanks for sharing!

    • kburns421 lm profile image

      kburns421 lm 5 years ago

      I would love to grow my own food someday, or at least a few foods. I learned some interesting stuff on your lens, especially about the vanilla beans. That's something I never would've even thought to grow.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      What a great lens! I really love reading about micro farm and homestead farm stories because we too have done our own homesteading and farming, although on a slightly larger playing field in a more rural area than your farm. This lens inspired me a lot, thanks for sharing!

    • esvoytko lm profile image

      esvoytko lm 5 years ago

      Very impressed that you're able to pull all this off near Phoenix! What a wonderful project.

    • microfarmproject profile image
      Author

      microfarmproject 5 years ago

      @anonymous: That's great to hear from you,Wanda. I love it that you have so many delicious veggies growing in your garden. I hope that you are enjoying Prescott this summer.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      We really enjoyed your story. Missy forwarded it to us. Richard has planted a small garden here in Prescott and it has been fun to observe. We have eaten zucchini, arugula, carrots, green beans. Yet to be ready are tomatoes, beets, herbs, more zucchini. Some other items have been enjoyed by a visitor or two - rabbit or squirrel!

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 5 years ago

      I'm a big fan of the micro-farm concept - good for you, building such a great life for your family! Also, those quails are adorable. :)

    • profile image

      myamya 5 years ago

      Beautiful lens, I enjoy reading it!

    • YogaAngel profile image

      YogaAngel 5 years ago

      This is so awesome! I want to be like you!

    • ismeedee profile image

      ismeedee 5 years ago

      I really admire what you have done!!! Such a role model! Lovely family, too! Thanks for making this lens- very inspiring!

    • profile image

      SteveKaye 5 years ago

      You have really done a lot with your micro farm. I'm very impressed.

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 5 years ago

      Excellent I wish we have more micro farms in our area, they are healthy.

    • Ashly Rain profile image

      Ashly Rain 5 years ago

      What a great lens! Love it when someone takes the time to put so much thought into what they are writing on Squidoo, and when they share something unique (I'm guilty of not doing enough of that). Thanks for teaching us all a bit about urban farming!

    • microfarmproject profile image
      Author

      microfarmproject 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Hey, Karl. Nice to hear from you on this lens. The hens are loving the screen door that you put on the coop. It is really helping to keep them cool in this triple-digit weather.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      The Farm looks great! If there is anyone in the Phoenix AZ Metro area in need of Coops, Fencing, or Custom Urban Farm Enclosures Construction? Give Crosspoint Contracting LLC a call! Ask for Karl 623-208-9222

      Premier Micro Farm Contractor!!!!

    • Huntsnan profile image

      Huntsnan 5 years ago

      This is where I plan to be. I have always wanted to be self-sufficient and was well on my way until a series of devastating events stopped my forward progress. You are inspiring me to get back on track!

    • equestrianscience profile image

      equestrianscience 5 years ago

      great lens, thanks for sharing

    • chas65 profile image

      chas65 5 years ago

      Wow, I am impressed what you have done with the land. Very informative.

    • Lynda Makara profile image

      Lynda Makara 5 years ago from California

      What an outstanding lens! This deserves a purple star and LOTD.

    • Alethia LM profile image

      Alethia LM 5 years ago

      This is an amazing lens and really inspiring! Thank you so much for sharing all these stories!

    • ForestBear LM profile image

      ForestBear LM 5 years ago

      It's very inspiring to read about your way of life. Wish more people would lead similar lives. Thank you for sharing

    • IMKZRNU2 profile image

      IMKZRNU2 5 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Goats can be a lot of fun and you can use the milk (if you breed them) to make some really good cheese. Nice lens...thanks for sharing!

    • Millionairemomma profile image

      Millionairemomma 5 years ago

      This is so personable to read and look at. What a great "project" and your children are not getting addicted to foods packed with preservatives, excess salt and sugar. Wonderful!

    • microfarmproject profile image
      Author

      microfarmproject 5 years ago

      @siskiyoucowgirl: That's great! Goats are next on my list of livestock to have here on the farm.

    • profile image

      siskiyoucowgirl 5 years ago

      What a great lens! Thank you for sharing it! Your farm sounds similar to mine. My family and I have a garden and raise goats, geese, chickens, guinea fowl, cats and a dog. It's always interesting to meet people here on Squidoo with similar interests.

    • BLouw profile image

      Barbara Walton 5 years ago from France

      I love this idea. I strive towards the microfarm but it is a lot of hard work.

    • savateuse profile image

      savateuse 5 years ago

      Great lens!

    • christine616 profile image

      christine616 5 years ago

      I think it's wonderful how self-sufficient you are! Great lens. =)

    • MermaidDoc profile image

      MermaidDoc 5 years ago

      Wow, this is a great lens and an incredible project. It's amazing how self sufficient people can be when they put their minds to it!! Well done.

    • randomthings lm profile image

      randomthings lm 5 years ago

      That is an amazing project you have created, way to go! Thanks for sharing it. very well done article.

    • LittleLindaPinda profile image

      Little Linda Pinda 5 years ago from Florida

      I can only have container gardens where I live. I have been thinking about what I would like to plant. This is so great to have a Micro Farm.

    • LynetteBell profile image

      LynetteBell 5 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

      Very nice lens on your project! I love fresh Lima beans but have never seen them in New Zealand..only in a can mixed with other beans.

    • AcornOakForest profile image

      Monica Lobenstein 5 years ago from Western Wisconsin

      I really enjoyed reading about your experience. It's inspiring to think of all you can do on a small plot of land, even in the desert. Thanks for sharing!

    • microfarmproject profile image
      Author

      microfarmproject 5 years ago

      @Steph Tietjen: Thank you for the "heads up" about the link. I will fix it. Keep an eye on my lenses as I plan on posting a solar oven lens soon, as well as a lens concerning raising Coturnix quail.

    • Steph Tietjen profile image

      Stephanie Tietjen 5 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

      I enjoyed reading about your farm project. I keep chickens, too and am interested in quail, even more so, now that I know the exceptional nutritional value. I am also interested in solar cooking, but the link doesn't seem to work for the download. Thanks for the great tour.

    • kerbev profile image

      kab 5 years ago from Upstate, NY

      I don't think I've ever had Christmas Lima Beans.