29 Jun URBAN FARMING
In recent years, urban farming has become a thing. My fiancé and I are actually urban farmers, and we’d planned on this long before it became a thing. We loved the idea of living a little closer to the land, and in the last 3 ½ years, we’ve built a sweet little farm in our backyard. But what exactly is “urban farming?” What qualifies? What doesn’t? Why would you want to consider it? Do you have enough space?
Simply put, urban farming is the process of growing fruits, herbs, and vegetables and/or raising animals on a city property. And I want to stress here that there is no Urban Farm Police (that I know of) that is going to knock down your door if you use the term loosely. I’ve read that urban farms are those that are in the city but they exist for the sole purpose of commerce – meaning, you’re doing it in order to sell products. I don’t necessarily buy into that narrow definition, even though it’s great if you want to sell food and are able to do it.
If you’re interested in urban farming, here are some thoughts to get you started. From a typical urban lot to a larger 1-acre property, there are many ways to incorporate urban farming into your lifestyle.
- Be responsible. Sometimes when something is a fad (like chickens), it sounds really fun to hop on the bandwagon. But please do your research and know what it means to care for small farm animals; these are living creatures and there is a responsibility to care for them properly. Know how much food will cost, plan what to do in the event of illness or emergency, know what they need on a day-to-day basis and be committed to their care.
- Grow food. By far the easiest part of urban farming is growing food. Certainly there is a lot of trial and error to knowing how to do it successfully, but you can grow fruits, veggies, and herbs in relatively small spaces like containers, raised beds and landscape beds.
- Raise animals. Chickens, ducks, goats, rabbits, and bees are some of the more popular animals to raise on an urban farm. With the exception of goats, these animals don’t take up a lot of space and they provide you with eggs, honey, manure for composting, and milk. A small rabbit hutch and 5 chickens is very doable on a normal sized city property, but be sure you do your research on how much space a particular type of animal needs.
- Know your city’s zoning laws. Zoning laws tell you what you can grow, if you can sell it, what kind of animals you can raise, how many animals you can have, or if you can have educational classes on your farm. In my city, for example, I can have chickens as long as the coop is 50′ away from a neighbor’s structure, and I can have a rooster as long as my neighbors don’t complain about the noise. But one of the cities to the south of me has a rule that residents can have no more than 2 chickens and they cannot have any roosters. It’s different in every area; be sure you check before you buy.