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What if Farmers made House Calls?

Yard Scaping

“In backyard farming, your not only selling the veggies, your selling the experience.”  Charlie Radoslovich of Rad Urban Farmers

In the US alone, there’s 50,000 square miles of lawns.

That’s obviously a terrible waste of a very valuable resource.   

But it gets worse, we spend over $30 billion a year landscaping those yards.

We’re not only wasting it, we’re paying to waste it.  Wow!

One big reason a home’s yard is so valuable is due to its proximity.  

It’s a growing space next to where you live.  A place you see every day.  An accessible space.   

Yard Scaping

That means it is one of the best places in the world for your food garden. It’s so close, it integrates growing food into your life (like the garden above, grown by Rad Urban Farmers).  

That integration gives you a measure of independence, an appreciation of what good food consists of (given how artificial and engineered so much of what we eat today is, that’s a VERY good thing), and a way to impart that experience to your kids.

Of course, since most people in the developed world don’t know how to grow food anymore and many of the methods and tools used to grow high quality food are still being developed, we are going to need to some help.

One great way to do that is to join a local foodscaping program.

This type of program is like a food subscription at a CSA.  However, in this program, the farmer comes to you.  He/she converts your yard into a high performance garden and teaches you how to garden it successfully.

I think that if we are smart, we’ll be spending more money on foodscaping in ten years than landscaping.   If so, good food will be available everywhere.

Keep thinking resiliently, take advantage of every setback.  Turn it into an opportunity!

John Robb

JR Small

PS:  What’s amazing to me is that we’re still learning new and better ways to grow healthy, delicious food locally.  That’s one of the reasons I started the resilient communities newsletter and research service.  My job is to find these methods/tools and get them out to you as soon as possible.

PPS:  The Wednesday Resilient Strategies call is with Doug Kalmer (1PM EST).   He’s got quite a few DIY solar projects under his belt.  Let’s find out what he’s learned.

PPPS:  When the GMO food bubble pops, you are going to wish you had a garden.  So, get it early and use it as much as you can.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • The difference in the “home garden” and farmer-run gardens is more than just knowing the best ways to grow things; instead of my garden with 50 tomato plants and 100 peppers and beans and such, perhaps my space is best suited to potatoes. A farmer might want to use my 1/2 acre of available yard space just to grow potatoes. If I am just growing for my own family, that makes no sense. I need a diverse crop and would never devote all my space to one particular crop. But, if my space is linked with my neighbor whose yard is used for tomatoes and another whose yard has peppers and so one, I share in the total space. The farmer could evaluate local growing conditions such as site, soil and sun and practice great crop rotation across a variety of properties. Perhaps I’m given the day-to-day tasks under his supervision and share in the entire crop harvest during the season.

    This model solves a few problems that are endemic to the local garden: a need for diversity leaving little room for crop failure, disease or pest. The local gardener probably does not have enough room for proper rotation leaving his space more open to problems.

    I am a master gardener who practices food-scape in my own yard. If I had the chance to devote, say, half my space to a community garden managed by a professional farmer, I’d jump at it.

  • scott

    Hi John, justs curious but why do you think the gmo food bubble will eventually pop? Great site.

    • John Robb

      Scott,

      Typically: at the moment of maximum harm. Of course, as we saw with the role of the “magnetar trade” in the the 2008 financial meltdown, that’s often because it can be timed by the people making the most money from the damage.

      JR

  • I have a bit of yard space that just has grass growing in it. I’d like to make the most of it and plant some food there.

    I know about the differing amounts of sun that my front yard, left side yard, right side yard and back yard receive. It’s all so different and I am wondering what should go where.

    I’d like to plant rosemary (how many hours of sun per day?), spinach, tomatoes, basil, cukes, kale, strawberries. But I live in zone 10.

    Another question I have is WHEN should I plant these and when not to? Our summers are brutal and winters are lovely….is everything we do bass-ackwards, generally speaking?

    I’d love to know more about my general planting area and then I’d be happy to share what I learn with others online.

  • I apologize in advance for this, but your headline made me think of a farmer ringing my doorbell and saying “I’ve come to eat a good meal and spend the night at your house. I only ask one thing: that you don’t touch my daughter.”

  • Steve Hoefer

    As someone who grew up on a farm I think it’s a great, but flawed idea.
    Farmers are not gardeners. The processes and foods modern farmers are familiar with are not really suitable for home gardens. A farmer in the US today might know how to drive a tractor, but probably does’t even own a hoe or gardening trowel. They’re experts in growing hundreds of acres of a handfull of crops. They’re businesspeople, growing it for the money, not the food. A huge percentage of farm-grown crops don’t go from farm to table, they go back to farms as animal feeds, are processed into plastics, fuel, inks, oils, starches and emulsifiers. These aren’t skills that are useful to a home gardener.

    In the US we have the Cooperative Extension Offices. Few people seem to know they exist, but this is exactly what they’re for – educating people (from industrial farmers down to kids with grade-school projects) in learning how to produce food in their area. They’re funded by the USDA and can provide all kinds of knowledge about food production to anyone who asks.
    http://www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/

    • John Robb

      Thanks Steve. On one level I agree… But, here’s something to think about.

      Industrial farming in the way you describe, has only been around for a short while historically. What I’m describing is closer to traditional farming over the last couple of thousand years.

      Further, industrial farming isn’t likely the best way farm. Not only are farmers doing poorly economically, we are seeing trends in demand that will make industrial farming less and less profitable over time.

      Finally, industrial farming isn’t the only place to find farmers. Lots of farmers out there are doing it differently already.

      Sincerely, JR

  • I already add some foods like Tomatoes and greens to my from yard. My dark age homeowners association send me letters threatening me that if I do not remove them they will fine me. The Tomatoes seem, to disappear every year and some heirloom Tomatoes are passed out and I have fun. I am also not allowed to have Buffalo grass or San Augustine in my front yard as I will not look like the rest.

    • John Robb

      That’s terrible. I wonder if it’s possible to put a hedge up to block views. JR

  • Devin

    “Backyard Farm Service: Using Lawn-Service Provision as a Model for Localizing Food Production”

    http://www.asla.org/2011awards/421.html

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