Community Philosphy Blog and Library

HOMEGROWN Life: What It’s Like To Urban Farm

Yellow Tree Farm

The reactions I’m met with when I tell people I’m an urban farmer are either confusion or quaint amusement. It’s either something along the lines of:

“Oh, cute. I like to garden, too.”

Or, “What’s ‘urban farming’?”

Either way, I usually have some explaining to do.

I, together with my husband, got the wacky idea one day to rip out our grassy lawn and plant vegetables and herbs instead. Insane, I know, but we figured it would be a lot more productive to, say, grow our own food rather than continually mow a lawn which wasn’t providing us with much of any use at all. We already had a few chickens and decided, the hell with it, let’s get some more! Rabbits, too! Quail, ducks, turkey, pigeon, and why not a couple bee hives? Goats and a pig, sure, might as well!

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And we were off. In a feverish pace we decided to cut back from two jobs and incomes to one, two automobiles to one, and committed every waking moment to planning and formulating a working urban farm.

So when I say that my husband and I urban farm, I mean it. We’re not just hobby-gardening on the weekends. The two of us are pretty much sunup to sundown (and we’ll even strap on headlamps so we can continue to work outside in the dark most times); our clothes are stained with a brown tinge from the soil that never seems to wash away; herbs and onions are drying in our sunroom; seed packets strewn about various table tops; farming catalogues dominating the coffee table; jars of preserved whats-its filling our cabinets; bee stings, bug bites, scratches and cuts mapping our bodies – and we’re doing all this not in the rural countryside, but in a metropolitan area, on less than 1/10 of an acre.

It’s a grandiose accomplishment, and humbling at the same time – for we’re wholly dependent on the whims of nature (and a few hungry racoons) for our successes and failures.

I’m truly excited for the opportunity to contribute to Homegrown’s blog. Whether providing recipes for canning, compiling a guide to raising livestock, or giving tips on the legalities of citified-agriculture – I hope to offer all of you some insight, inspiration, and humor based off of what I’ve learned so far, and what I’m sure to encounter in the coming seasons.

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Yellow Tree Farm’s web site: http://yellowtreefarm.blogspot.com/

Danielle Leszcz, Yellowtree Farm

“I’m half of YellowTree Farm, an urban homestead that I founded with my husband in late 2008. Together, my husband and I grow vegetables and raise animals on less than 1/10 of an acre in St. Louis, Missouri. We speak publicly about urban farming, sew, and make our own toiletries.  I don’t have children. I have animals, which is kind of the same thing as being a parent, except I eat my babies.”

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17 Responses to “HOMEGROWN Life: What It’s Like To Urban Farm”

  1. So lucky to have so many animals!! I had to share the eating your children bit, too funny.

  2. Lol…I raise animals too but as a vegetarian don’t eat them! We use our’s for manure and eggs. As a small organic family farmer I look forward to seeing your future posts. Good luck on the new adventure! Kim

  3. Congratulations, Danielle and Justin, can’t wait to read your posts.
    I just have to tell everyone that I know what these people are doing.
    They do more farming on their 1/10th acre than many people I know who have large acreages. I consider them the epitome of urban farmers in the truest sense of the word.

  4. I really admire you both. I am looking forward to more posts. We have a lot of shade in our yard however we do have some sunny spots. I am inspired to get more creative with some of the large pots we can place in the sun.

  5. Very cool! Looking forward to reading more, we are also working with an urban lot about the same size, trying to grow as much as possible for our house.

  6. This is so interesting! I would love to raise animals in our little 1/3 of an acre!

  7. I wish I could keep chickens but I love my dogs more. Score one for the urban set. Good job!

  8. Touche! I love it. I do what I can with the bit of land they let me dig up, but if we owned, I’d be right there with you. Looking forward to more missives from the urban farmstead.

  9. You are an inspiration! We, too, are on less than 1/10 of an acre and I would love to see pictures of how you utilize your space. Can’t wait to hear more about your farm.

  10. Thanks everyone for your comments. I brain glitched and the photos didn’t make it into the early version of the post. Up now!

  11. Congrats, Danielle! Can’t wait to read more of your posts!

  12. As a frequent visitor to their farm, I can attest first hand the awesomeness of what happens in that little backyard. From eggs, to tomatoes, to honey…Justin and Danielle are doing it right.

  13. thanks for your post…i am doing much the same on one acre in the panhandle of florida…keeep up the the “great work”….people will respond to working examples in their community…peace

  14. I see Justin every week when he makes deliveries to Farmhaus so it’s really cool to be able to follow the behind the scenes of your urban garden. I love the photo of your cabinet filled with REAL canned goods. Everyone should have cabinets like that!

  15. Cool. I work on a 70 acre organic farm in Austin, but I’m starting to think that farming a small space–whatever small space you happen to have—can teach you even more about farming, because in your case, everything is entirely yours. I’ve recently begun a small windowsill garden, since I live in an apartment and don’t have access to green space. I’ll keep you in mind when I’m looking for space saving ideas!

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