My Farm Grows From San Francisco Backyards

If Old MacDonald had his farm in San Francisco and wanted to be more sustainable he would definitely be interested in My Farm. This highly spirited group sprang from the good SF soil on a few months ago but already has people talking (and eating).

The San Francisco-based My Farm combines the local CSA produce with landscaping and gardening skills. San Franciscans (such as one of Green Zebra owners) pay a initial installation fee (usually in the $600-$2000 range) to have a crew set up irrigation, soil content and what ever else they deem necessary to start a backyard victory garden. From that point, they install a variety of vegetables, fruits, and even edible flowers (such as borage which benefits bees). And we have to be especially nice to the fast disappearing bees. We would love to salad-up in the Green Zebra garden with Jerusalem artichokes, tree collards, escorale, tomatillos, kohlrabi, corn and radishes.

The service costs about $35 per week but depending on the yard size and the bounty it produces that amount can be less. The more food that a yard produces the less the yard owner pays for the CSA box. The fee includes landscaping, gardening and a weekly CSA box. Such a deal. In this city it costs more for just a gardener to cut a lawn.

The workers utilize permaculture principles (or permanent culture) which to us looks like a serving of practical, functional and sustainable methods.

The My Farm model has spread to Marin and the East Bay faster than wild mushrooms and may soon come to an urban jungle near you.

  1. Nimic

    I would love to do something like this in my backyard. Unfortunately, all the neighborhoods in my area are strictly governed by a homeowners association that requires grass. However, I think this is far more beautiful and fruitful use of the land.

  2. P.Price

    You know, some folks will frown on this notion, thinking that it makes vegetable gardening too trendy, too (gasp!) elite. But if this concept can help people make the transition to better land use and spread into less-verdant regions, then I see no problem with it. Plus, it could create some interesting business opportunities for farming families to supplement their income. And it would certainly help solve the food miles dilemma. In fact, it may be an even better solution than farmers markets or CSAs in some areas. Once the home gardens are established, owners can take greater responsibility and cut down on travel costs.

  3. Rachel

    Wonderful! Thanks for writing on this. As an urban food gardener with minimal space in a courtyard backyard, I’m always on the hunt for tips, suggestions and design concepts that I can integrate for more bountiful harvests.

  4. DON

    I think it’s a great idea.
    I saw a video not too long ago where people I believe In New York city, had started a vegetable garden on the rooftops of their apartment building. It seemed to catch on with commercial buildings planting flowers on their rooftops to make the city look greener from the air.
    If you live in a apartment building in San Francisco that has a flat roof, you can get several of your neighbors together and plant a vegetable garden. They all share in the cost. That would make it very inexpensive. They would have fresh vegetables and herbs and fun maintaining it.
    Keith I would like to post a link to this article from my web site http://www.discovering-sanfrancisco.com
    if it’s OK with you please e-mail me at info@discovering-sanfrancisco.com

  5. Jennie Love

    I love this idea and am so glad you wrote about it so I found out about it! I work with an urban farm in Philadelphia and would love to expand our reach through a service like this. It’d be incredible to have a whole neighborhood of pocket-sized farms!!!!

  6. justin

    I love your creativity! I have heard about backyard farms in oakland where one person tends the entire thing but i think the solution of a temporary farmer coming in is much more practical. I was wondering if you ever find lead-content to be an issue in the soil? in an urban setting, I would have to guess you might find that more often than not.

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