Have you ever planted mint in your garden? If you have you’ll know it’s a big mistake. Join me this week on The Urban Farm Podcast as I talk about my successes and failures as a farmer/gardener. Listen HERE for part 1 of the conversation (part 2 comes out on Thursday). My friend Greg Peterson, the host of the show, is a decades-long urban farmer and educator in Phoenix, Arizona. Greg has dedicated his life to learning how to grow healthy food and transform the global food system. He is a leader in the Food Revolution and I just love what he does to the make the most out of his modest yard, also known as The Urban Farm.
For those interested in learning more, The Urban Farm is offering a webinar called 3 Simple Steps To Grow Fruits And Veggies For A Healthier Life. I enrolled in his course in 2014 (while touring!) and it has since made a major impact on the sourcing of our food supply. Click HERE for more information.
Below is a post Greg wrote about a day on The Urban Farm:
There is something to eat in my yard every day, 365 days a year. Last Thanksgiving it was a wonderful salad that included: Six different greens such as Nasturtium leaves and sorrel (a surprise find growing in the back ‘wild’ area); ruby red pomegranate seeds; an incredible citrus called limequat that was sliced up skin and all for a tangy/sweet sensation; and a little bit of the herbs tarragon and fennel, with a smidge of that pretty little three-leaf clover you see growing in some yards called sour grass. The flavors were so diverse and striking that I chose not to add any dressing at all.
I have spent a large part of the past 27 years integrating edible plants into my landscape, from the Thanksgiving salad and my farm soup, to the occasional snack as I work through my weekly urban farmer tasks. All the hard work and experimentation has netted an incredible, edible yard and a hard-knock education about how and what grows best in my yard.
When I was in the eighth grade my family moved into a home with a very large yard where the back 1/3-acre became our garden. We planted, the seeds grew and a spark ignited inside of me…I decided to be a farmer. Over time, my dream became farming 200 acres out there somewhere, and when I went back to school for my bachelor’s degree I was required to write a vision for my life. In that vision, “farmer” showed up, but with a twist: Instead of 200 acres, The Urban Farm was born on a 0.4-acre property in Phoenix, AZ and I was a farmer. My gardening hobby of 10+ years was in reality urban farming, an incredible canvas on which to paint my dream.
One outlet for my passion has been to re-landscape my entire yard with the notion that everything that I grow is either edible, or supports the plants that are edible. Over the past 27 years I have planted trees that produce edible fruits, nuts and beans such as mesquite; perennial herbs including basil, rosemary and oregano that I use a hedge trimmer on periodically; along with the standard annual vegetables – broccoli, snow peas, and cucumbers to name just a few.
Because of our name, visitors to The Urban Farm have an expectation that they will see long rows of corn and beans, and a full working traditional farm. To the contrary, much of what we have accomplished lives in standard garden beds, and if a person visiting did not know any differently they would just see a nicely landscaped yard.
Magic happens when I stand back and watch the natural processes that exist in my yard. A couple of decades ago I was fighting a basil plant – it wanted to bloom, I wanted the basil leaves – as if I KNEW what was best for it. After a long battle, which I finally learned that I could not win, I gave up and let the basil bloom, and boy did it bloom. What happened next was one of those secrets that nature only whispers if you stand back and watch. The bees arrived by the hundreds, and since then pollination has not been a problem on The Urban Farm.
My job these days has become helping others transform their outdoor living spaces into edible wonderlands. Offering a plethora of classes on a diverse list of topics is the most natural way for me to express my passion. Over the years topics such as vermiculture (cultivating worms for their manure), desert gardening, edible landscaping, fruit trees, and the always popular “Keeping Chickens in Your Yard” have begun to reconnect Phoenix residents to the roots of where our food comes from.
Now I’ve expanded my reach to the global community by offering online classes, both free and paid, to inspire and empower people from around the world to grow their own healthy, organic food and join the food revolution. My latest free webinar, 3 Simple Steps To Grow Fruits And Veggies For A Healthier Life, will cover how to choose the right space to plant your edible garden, how to determine what to plant when, why soil is your most important asset and gardening hacks that will make growing your own food easy and successful. If you are excited to join the revolution and start creating your edible yard or patio but have little to no experience, this webinar was designed for you! Click here to learn more.
Farming the city spaces around us presents a whole new paradigm for growing our own food and reigniting our connection to nature. The tools are here, and the knowledge is available, you can kindle your desire by getting your hands dirty, taking a chance and spreading some seeds. The fruits of your labor are much tastier (not to mention cheaper) than what you find in the grocery store and come along with the satisfaction that YOU grew them.
Greg Peterson, Your Urban Farmer, May 2016