Food Stories

Documentary shorts — unscripted — featuring farmers, artisans, and others

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Organic Foods: Backyard Agriculture (video)

A simple idea led two women into a thriving new enterprise. Creating backyard mini-farms for homeowners who want to start growing their own fresh herbs and vegetables, but lack the time or resources to do it themselves. A considerable amount of food can be grown in a small area of land, and depending on one’s geographic location, the food can be grown outdoors throughout much of the year. As food prices rise, these types of mini-farms take on new economic meaning!

It’s no easy task being a farmer. What makes it even more challenging these days is to find affordable land in the first place. I hear frequent stories along these lines from those just starting out, and, from those who have been farming for awhile. The veteran farmers shake their heads and say something has to change if we’re going to rely on getting our food locally.

That’s why when I heard about Donna Smith and Robyn Streeter of Your Backyard Farmer, I got really excited! For the right farmer, and the right landowner, this is such a no-brainer. It’s one of those why-didn’t-I-think-of-that moments! There is so much unused garden space in people’s backyards, most covered in grass (resource intensive, and inedible for humans), many of these plots would make a suitable space for a food garden.

Donna says you’d be surprised by the amount of food that can be harvested from a relatively small space. She figures 100 square feet of space will feed at least one adult (up to a family of 2) throughout the growing seasons (this will vary by geographic region). Picture it, a 10 by 10 bed or plot; that’s not so big. Multiply the number of people you’d like to feed in your family by that 10 X 10 figure, and that’s roughly the amount of growing space you will need to keep your family well stocked with fresh vegetables and herbs (PDF).

a backyard gardenSo many communities and organizations around the world are looking at creative ways to bring good, clean, fresh food closer to home. There’s City Farmer in Vancouver, BC; Pittsburgh, PA; and Middlesbrough, UK. A successful campaign spearheaded by Kitchen Gardeners International to create a White House Garden serves as powerful inspiration for many of us to start working on our own backyards!

There are lots of different ways ( Resources For City Farms ) to accomplish this effort of growing and providing food locally and lots of folks working hard to make it happen. Do you have other ideas to share? Or, know of other groups that are working toward bringing food home…right to your doorstep? Building a local food economy is just one more step toward a more sustainable way of living. A win-win for everyone including our planet.

—Rebecca

Recipes from this show: Kale Philo Bake; Crookneck Squash and Tomato Slices

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6 Comments

  1. Carbzilla says:

    Here in Seattle we have http://www.eatyouryard.com. We didn’t use them but did enough work ourselves to be able to grow in our back and side yards to feed us for most of the summer and into the fall. If we can do it, anybody can!

  2. Rebecca, It seems a though you have found your niche for quite a while now. I have niece at CMA now.

    Here in Carlsbad, CA we still have the famous flower fields and starwberry fields amongst the ever encroaching development.

    Great show, I am sorry I havent been watching more closley.

    Marc

  3. Tricia says:

    I have heard of these women, and thought about contacting them to find out their availability. Kudos to them for having a waiting list for 2009!

    What a great idea. I hope this catches on as a business across the country, and that Your Backyard Farmer serves as a model for how to take advantage of unused land. It sounds like there is a lot of room to grow (pun intended!).

  4. Rebecca says:

    JeanAnnVK: yes, an idea whose time has come! And like they said at the end, there’s lots of room for farmers.

    Moni: thank you! I know you live ‘down under’, so it’s great to hear they speak to people everywhere. Donna shared with me she is being contacted by people from different parts of the world to learn more about their method of backyard farming. Good, fresh, clean food is a global need.

  5. Moni says:

    These stories are just so valuable, Rebecca, everyone loves them!! Thank you!!

  6. JeanAnnVK says:

    I have heard of these people…really cool idea and it seems like they have done well…good for them!