surburban farming
surburban farming

surburban farming

Tonight, I was reading a blog post by entitled “Is Urban Farming Really Farming?”  Great post if you’re interested, and it caused me to reflect on what makes a suburban yard a “farm.”

summer farm veggies

My tween daughter seems to define farm as “an area of land that is bigger than our yard and has real farm animals like goats or pigs.  We do NOT have a farm.”  So what has caused me to quit calling my land a “yard” and refer to my suburban residence as a farm?

  • No concern about the need for grass–goodness knows, it only gets in the way of the veggies and flowers.
  • No concern about how “pretty” my farm looks.  Yes, I want it to capture a sense of peace, creation, passion, art, and functionality, but “pretty?”  uh-uh
  • I embrace the leaves that fall in the gardens–they make great compost and protect plants during winter months.
  • I see the land around me as an extension of my home and my desire to live simply.
  • Gardens are more functional, providing food for ourselves, friends and family.
  • Rather than using a lot of newfangled equipment like leaf blowers and lawn edgers, I use hoes, shovels, and spades to cultivate the land by hand.
  • I am using both traditional and modern farming practices that promote sustainability.
  • By golly, we’ve had 5 cats, 2 dogs, several fish, a frog, a lizard, and more birds, rabbits, squirrels and possums than I care to think about.  If they don’t fill the animal quotient, I don’t know what does.
one of our "farm" animals, Priss, enjoying our greens

Most importantly, however, is the fact that I want this to be a farm.  I want to carry on traditions, homestead, create, grow, and cultivate like a farmer.  Why do I need to live on a large tract of land with pigs and goats to be called a “farm?”  Suburban farming allows me not only to live the lifestyle I want to lead but also raise awareness about sustainable, affordable, and organic practices that promote the health of  body, mind, and spirit.

So next time you’re wondering about that house down the street whose yard may not be green and manicured, stop on by.  They can share a few stories about their small neighborhood farm and will probably send you home with a sack full of fresh goodies.


  1. Great post! we call our place a farm as well – and I have often thought of why we do – and also have children who sometimes scoff at the “farm” name… your post really puts it into perspective and puts many of our thoughts into words. great job!

  2. A bicycle, compact car, SUV, and bus are all vehicles – they get you somewhere, require effort and investment, and have to follow some of the same basic principles. Though scale is the most obvious difference, there are other different benefits and liabilities. A bicycle might use a lot less fuel, but you can’t use it on the Interstate (usually… I rode a good stretch of the shoulder of I-5 several years back). A bus will get a lot of people down the road quickly and relatively efficiently, but it’s not so good on backwoods single track.

    Similarly, your farm is a farm – on a different scale with similar purposes and under the constraints of similar principles.

  3. The Slow Foods Mama


    I think you some it up best here : Most importantly, however, is the fact that I want this to be a farm. I want to carry on traditions, homestead, create, grow, and cultivate like a farmer.

    You hit on another important point as well – the awareness that farming in a neighbourhood creates. We grow veggies in our front yard on a busy urban street. (Our lot is only 33 x 108) After a couple of growing seasons we noticed others on our street sneaking veggies into their flower beds!

    Between that and all the veg we give away to passers-by, which always comes with info on the importance of organics & heirlooms our little urban farm has contributed to food security & education of our neighbourhood.


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