What is Backyard Farming
Backyard Farming sounds crazy at first. Urban Farming or Urban Homesteading does not sound much better.
We don’t want to be these people:
Yet, more and more people are beginning to see that there is a real benefit to growing our own food and making things at home. There are many reasons for this including the high price of foods and concerns about food quality.
Food costs: The cost of food continues to rise, and families are beginning to demand higher quality options like organic produce which cost even more.
Quality concerns: It is impossible to be sure of the quality of food that one buys at a store.
Even if you have the means and ability to shop somewhere like Whole Foods and purchase only the highest quality items, can you ever be sure what you are really buying?
Is an organic carrot from the store really better just because it costs twice as much? Sometimes “organic” means that they dumped certified chemicals onto the crops instead of non-certified organic varieties.
Neem oil is natural but perhaps not meant to be extracted and dumped in large quantities, onto unnaturally large fields of carrot.
This is not a dig on commercial farmers. They do their very best to supply the products that consumers are asking for. But as consumers, we have another option which is to grow some of our own food and make some of our own products.
What is Backyard Farming?
Backyard Farming or Urban Farming is a movement where regular people who live in typical houses in typical neighborhoods are turning part of their property into mini or micro farms.
Personally, I use the term farming in order to make a distinction between ordinary gardening where one throws the same tomatoes in the same spot of the yard every year and hopes for the best, as opposed to a smarter, more deliberate approach to maximizing the harvest.
This approach uses a concept known as permaculture. Permaculture is a style of organic gardening which uses “nature” as a tool to encourage the growth of fruits, flowers, and vegetables as opposed to always fighting against nature.
There are many articles on this site devoted to this concept. Take a look at the “Growing” section of the menu.
The term farming as used here is not to imply that one needs to grow things on a large scale, or to sell their crops to the public, but rather to emphasize the idea of taking an active approach to organic gardening at home in order to dramatically improve the results regardless of however much one wants to produce.
Having said that, using these techniques, the following things are able to be accomplished, if one were so inclined, on a typical suburban property.
- Grow all of the salad ingredients for your family
- Produce enough Asparagus to eat every night for a family of 5 for 3 months out of the year.
- Produce apples, pears, plums, and cherries
- Grow hundreds of dollars worth of organic raspberry, blueberry, or blackberry
- Produce a bounty of melons, carving pumpkins, and every other vegetable you can think of. Heck, peanuts if you want to.
- Chicken eggs (if allowed), and all sorts of other things we discuss on this site.
What’s with the name
We use the term backyard farming because it gets closer to the mindset of what our goal is. “Backyard” meaning that we are doing this at home and “Farming” because we are applying a more systematic or purposeful approach to growing food.
It is gardening. More specifically, it is organic gardening. We incorporate permaculture and other natural concepts in order to take our organic gardening to the next level.
The Goal of Backyard Farming
The goal with backyard farming for me is to do these the types of things mentioned in the above list on our property without anyone really noticing or caring. Many of the above examples can be incorporated beautifully into a suburban landscape and actually improve the overall aesthetic of one’s property.
Driving through a nice suburban neighborhood, one immediately sees very well-maintained, beautiful landscaped properties. Yet none of the plants in these suburban landscapes can be used by the families that live there. This does not have to be the case.
Why not replace that ornamental plum tree with an actual plum tree…Kale instead of hosta. Blueberry shrubs instead of poison shrubs… you get the point.
With a well designed backyard farming project up and running, neighbors will compliment how well your property looks as you bring them goodies from the garden all year long.
With Backyard Farming you will potentially reap more benefits than with traditional hobby gardening.
- Lower grocery bills, possibly significantly lower.
- Save time and energy per piece of food grown
- Eliminate fertilizing and much of the watering and weeding
- Eliminate rototilling and a lot of digging and raking
- Reduce waste by composting items that you may be throwing out now.
- True happiness when you begin to eat your produce and realize, perhaps for the first time, how much better everything tastes
But My Yard is not Big Enough
You would be surprised how much can be grown in the smallest areas using techniques discussed on this site.
I live in a typical Cape Cod house on a quiet street in a medium sized city in North Central Ohio. I have neighbors very close on both sides and in the back. In total I have about 0.3 acres of “land” which consists of a small front yard and a decent sized backyard enclosed with a chain link fence.
I have a tiny 1-car garage, a small patio, and typical yard tools.
I have space to grow enough fruit, flowers, herbs, and vegetables as I could possibly ever use, with space left over for a lawn to play badminton.
Begin by reading the articles on this site. Additionally, there are a lot of resources available on the net and in books on the following topics. Our articles provide great links to the resources we think are the best. When I began, I explored topics such as:
- Small space / patio / container gardening
- Permaculture, Hugelkultur
- Organic soil, hydroponics, vertical gardening
- Propagation techniques
Truth be told, I have spent over 20 years researching gardening and permaculture and have learned a great deal. I decided to make this website to share some of the things that I have found because I did not see a lot of folks doing it from my perspective, the suburban setting.
Living in a “nice” neighborhood, I wanted to do these cool things I was reading about but in a way that blended with the environment around me. I did not want to have a junkyard of pallets, weird structures, goats, and random dirt patches. Nor did I desire to have a wild food jungle.
My style is to take the traditional, generic dentist office-looking landscape found in suburbia and replace the plants in that type of design with food, medicinal herbs, and flowers.
Just begin, but start small. Incorporate little things one at a time into your landscape, see what works and what doesn’t and then slowly expand.
Fruit trees are your friend. The ultimate goal of the permaculture “food forest” is basically to have tons of food growing everywhere on your property that requires little to no maintenance. and produce large quantities of high calorie foods year after year. And even in cold Ohio, using Backyard Farming techniques, we can grow so many different kinds of fruit like cherry, apple, peach, plum, apricot and lots of berry and nut trees.
Have a look at my article on Backyard Farm Design, and then check out The Secret to Soil Fertility.
Take a look around Try Backyard Farming and I hope you will incorporate some of these concepts into your Urban / Suburban lifestyle!
Thanks for reading, and please share this article if you found it helpful.
Also, plan to check out all of the products recommended here at Try Backyard Farming, sorted into categories.
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