Backyard Farming As A Service

Why do I have a big, green lawn? Why do I pay landscapers to maintain this big, green lawn? Sure, it looks like all the neighbors’ lawns, which are also big and green. Wouldn’t it be better to plow it under and plant a rotation of useful vegetables and fruits? Wouldn’t it be cheaper than riding the bike down to the grocery store to buy the very same fruits I could grow on my own land?

Granted, I don’t have a lot of land. However, I have enough that it needs maintenance and upkeep every two weeks. If I look at my neighborhood, most everyone is in the same situation. Some have traded their yards for decks and pools, but for the most part, we all have big, green lawns. Add it all up, and there’s some serious fruits and vegetables one could grow in my neighborhood alone.

The upkeep of the garden could get tedious. All the planting, weeding, tending to water, warding off pests, etc adds up over time. Probably more time than most people have to maintain a functional fruit and veggie garden. This idea is sort of a tangent of DSA farming; except smaller and more personal.

This weekend, there were 5 different landscape crews in my neighborhood. What if you could hire mobile farming crews instead? Here’s just a workflow off the top of my head:

1. Early in spring,but just after the likely last frost. Till the ground. Deploy compost.
2. A week later, till the ground again. Sow the first seeds. Do the normal staking our rows, ask the owner to water daily. Bonus if you setup rain barrels and use that water instead of tap water.
3. On a regular schedule, come back and weed, mulch the growing plants, setup wire mesh cages or trellis to protect them from pests.
4. When the veggies/fruits are grown, pick them. Some quantity is delivered to the landowner as their share. The rest is sold in farmer’s markets or to local stores.
5. Start over with step 2 until the first frost is likely. Adjust watering and other needs as weather conditions merit.

This sounds too simple, doesn’t it? It’s basically replacing landscapers who are mowing grass and weeding flower beds with farmscapers who are sowing produce and doing the care and feeding for you. Sure, you can still pay them to maintain the yard, but in the end, in bulk, you have a great peer-to-peer production farm with little maintenance by the landowner.

I’m sure I’m missing something around the economics here. This entire thought came out of a discussion with Geoff from Beresford of Tiverton over dinner one night.

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