The urban dwellers depend on urban  markets for  supplies of fresh vegetables and fruits among others things. The prices  of market supplies   tend to fluctuate depending on seasons in the year. They are generally expensive during  dry seasons.  With market supplies, one   cannot be sure of their  quality. Quality of fresh food crops is affected  by  farming methods applied  by  farmers. Farmers tend for various reasons to  spray  growing vegetable crops with chemicals whether certified or not  that  are  generally not  good for human consumption. The farm produce en-route to the market  are also not properly harvested , cleaned and packaged.  The solution for   urban consumers   to get  organic foods  of  right price and quality  by   utilizing  part of  their  compounds to set up well organized  micro farms to produce  organic foods. In this way the price and quality of selected  crops will be under their control.

Backyard farming

Backyard farming  is a deliberate  farming practice of growing  food crops   in one’s backyard or   compound. The crops are mainly grown for own use but the balance if any can  be sold to  neighbors or market. Backyard farming can also be practiced on a commercial basis if  one has a big backyard or compound.

Size of micro farms

The micro farms can be  as small as few  square meters on the ground  but with  clear vertical space for both growing crops and   letting in  sunlight.  In my experience a  viable micro farm should be at least  a quarter an acre  to allow space for building a greenhouse and possibly fish pond among others.

Possible farming activities

The following  activities among others  can  be carried  out on  a micro farm;

  • Growing vegetables , spices , fruits and other crops;
  • Raising rabbits for meat;
  • Raring a few chicken for eggs;
  • Practicing fish farming in small ponds;
  • Keeping a few cow for milk and manure;
  • Using the compound fence for growing climbing crops and
  • Developing a nursery for seedling.

Setting up a backyard farming

It is important  for one to plan the infrastructure for the prioritized  backyard farming  activities .  The  selected activities should be those that will yield   high value  to the farmer given  the land,  space  and other resources constraints.  One  cannot  do everything on  the small available space around  the house. Planning enables one to implement  selected activities  in an orderly fashion. It is  important to note that implementation of  activities   may involve  re-landscaping  one’s compound.

Containers for backyard farming

The key challenge with backyard farming  is the limitation of  land space available  for the purpose. The option of planting crops directly into the soil is not available.  One  has to grow  crops that require little space for growing . The selected  crops  are planted in gardens  containers of various shapes filled with black soil.  The containers may include used or new container and those    made on the farm to hold soil.

Nursery                       

It is also advisable to have a few container gardens  dedicated to growing  seedlings for your  gardens and the surplus if any for sale. This is important  as  right  quality  seedlings of your preferred crops may not be  readily available  on the market at a right time and price.

Supply of soil and manure

In urban areas,  you may not easily have  access to both good black soil and organic manure to use when growing crops. It is important therefore  to have a regular supplier of both  good black soil and organic manure for your micro farms.  The suppliers may include established dairy and poultry farmers not very far  from your house.

Benefits of backyard farming

The key advantages are as follows;

  • The consumer is able to grow selected crops;
  • The consumer , to some  extent , is in position to control both quality and price;
  • The compound is natural and beautiful compound if the gardens are properly arranged;
  • It can be a source of income when the surplus is sold;
  • It is good for the education of children as it imparts life time skills;
  • It encourages the sharing of farming information with the neighbors;
  • Able to produce food throughout the year;
  • The family eats fresh and quality crops and
  • Backyard farming can be practiced by people who are holding a full time job.

Challenges for backyard farming

The key challenges include the following;

  • To procure or building the various containers for growing crops is quite expensive;
  • Prices of organic manure or fertilizers are quite high;
  • Water for irrigation can be expensive;
  • Organic products for disease control are expensive;
  • Experienced farms workers not readily available;
  • Controlling the smell from organic manure applied in gardens;
  • Lack of regular supply of quality seedlings at affordable prices;

Conclusion

Backyard farming enable  urban dwellers to access  quality food at a right prices throughout the year. This contributes   a lot to the health  standards of the urban community. In addition  the activity generate income  for many urban dwellers whose  income has been eroded by inflation over the years. There is , however , a need  for establishment of a  governing regulatory framework  for this activity for it to be properly  carried in urban area.

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