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 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.
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;
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.