How to start your own urban farm

How to start your own urban farm

The rise of urban agriculture is happening all around the world so why not make it happen in your own backyard? Find the motivation to start your own urban farm for commercial use and encourage the whole community to get involved. Be self-sustaining in your reliance on fresh produce and start growing your own healthy foods.

What is urban farming?

Urban farming is the agricultural practice of growing food crops in an urban environment, like in the centre of a town, for example. Urban farming is a way for people to have local access to fresh produce without having to pay for upscaled transport and packaging costs as one would when buying from a retail chain that gets its produce from larger commercial farms.

The purpose of urban farming, that distinguishes it from subsistence farming, is to generate profit and sell the produce to the local community. The purpose is to fulfil a commercial activity through local markets, an at-home store or any type of outlet.

Why would you want to start your own urban farm?

Urban farming is not only a business venture but it’s a means of being self-sustaining and giving back to the community. Many urban farmers share the responsibility of the farm with other people in the neighbourhood. And the food that is grown is a symbol of organically grown produce that has been carefully considered throughout the entire farming cycle.

There are other benefits to urban farming that go beyond the community, but it’s almost always for the good of the community.

  • Through urban farming there is a sense of food security for the people in the community who couldn’t, otherwise, afford healthy, organic produce sold in retail stores. Urban farms provide a steady supply at reduced costs (little transport and packaging required).
  • Urban farming teaches city slickers how to be independent and get their hands a little bit dirty without having to abandon city life for farm life. This also teaches them to respect their food and appreciate healthy produce.
  • And, with urban farming, we are creating ways to cultivate land in all areas of the city. Not only in the countryside but in the concrete gardens and back porches of urban homes, apartments or estates.

Urban farming is a way of making the most of the land we have to meet the needs and demands for healthy and organic food at an affordable and attainable price.  

How to know what to farm

Knowing where to start is rather simple. Once you have a space, you need to know what you’re going to farm. When you know this, you’ll be able to invest in the appropriate equipment, and know how many hands will be needed to maintain the farm and get started.

Look in your fridge and pantry and make a list of all the fresh ingredients you wish were stocked in there. Ask the people in your neighbourhood which fruits and vegetables they’d like to buy at more affordable prices. When you’ve created a list of what’s in demand, you can start doing research on how best to organically farm those products.

You may have to limit yourself to a few key ingredients in the beginning as you still figure out urban farming. Herbs are relatively easy to grow as well as potatoes, radishes, spring onion, cabbage, tomatoes and garlic. Then, as time goes on and you’ve mastered the basics of farming, you can expand your product offering, maybe get some more people involved and farm new fruits and vegetables.

But don’t think that urban farming is limited to fruits and vegetables only. Chickens and goats are popular livestock to have for urban farming because of chicken eggs and goats milk (as well as the dairy products that can be made from the milk). If you have enough space on your urban farming plot, consider a coop and a pen to house some organically raised animals.

What equipment will you need?

Farm equipment is necessary for all farms, even urban farms which are usually on a much smaller scale. You’ll need equipment to maintain your soil through conservational tillage and other organic tilling methods, irrigation systems, standard gardening tools, compost containers, seeding and harvesting equipment.

Rather start out with “too much” farm equipment and implements which you can always sell when you don’t need them anymore. It’s going to take the most amount of effort and equipment to get started before you can start relying on recycling and repurposing farming practices. This will also be where the bulk of your startup costs will be but the idea is to start a business that will eventually cover its own expenses.

Join the urban farming movement and make a change within your community. Develop an appreciation for organic foods and get everyone involved in leading healthier and sustainable lifestyles.  

Photo by Richard Walker Photography

Authored by: mjones

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