Tonight, I was reading a blog post by slowfoodsmama.com 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.”
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.
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.