We’re excited to finally have a place to post and share with others what we’ve been doing with regenerative agriculture and permaculture practices to our urban homestead over the last 5 years. Here’s some details of how Paula and I got into this little homesteading adventure. 🙂
Brian (yours truly) grew up in a gardening household. We always had a backyard urban kitchen garden and at my Grandparents 80 acre farm they had a subsistence 1/4 acre garden along with various livestock. Looking back now I have fond memories of my mother and Grandmother canning fresh vegetables, much the way Paula does today in our household. Paula’s family wasn’t really interest in vegetable gardening. Besides the occasional spring/summer flower beds around their home her step-father did grow a few tomato plants every year out behind their garage.
As a couple we began gardening together at our current home in the spring of 2003 (starting with two 4’x8′ garden boxes up on a partially shaded hillside). We tried to grow the typical suburban sorts of garden plants: a few tomato plants, cucumbers, squash plants, and lettuces all bought at the local “big box” store. We always met with mixed results for our efforts which inevitably lead to frustration. We came away from the experience each year with the attitude of “we’ll its getting plenty of water and if it’s not growing maybe next year we need to add MORE chemical fertilizers to boost the growth?!?!…maybe next spring we’ll get the rototiller out and run it deeper to stir up the dirt?” Ahh…remembering back on those early years and what we’ve learned since those days about the difference between living soil and lifeless dirt has changed out entire outlook on growing food.
Fast-Forward to Today:
10 years later (and feeling burned out) running our lives ragged in suburbia “keeping up with the Jones'”. The spring of 2013 brought about the decision to focus on turning our petro-chemical soaked yard into a place where we could start repairing some of the damage being done to our planet and consume some healthy food in the process. It was at this time in my life I discovered regenerative agriculture and that strange word “Permaculture”. In earnest I began absorbing the teachings of Bill Mollison, David Holmgren, Toby Hemenway, and Elaine Ingham to name a few like a dry sponge seeking knowledge. That resulted in the “light bulb” moment: By restructuring our suburban yard to produce and consume much more of our own healthy food we would reduce our demand on the already stressed “over-processed” food production systems, create habitat for birds, bees, and butterflies and increasing the organic matter of our soils; together Paula and I would become a vector of change in the right direction to correct some of the destruction being done to the earth.
So to begin, we started by adding 2 more 5’x10′ garden boxes up on our hillside; filling these with a good compost mix and putting in our first “cover crop” to reduce leeching of nutrients (we also remediated the soil of the existing two 4’x8′ garden boxes). For the first time in 10 years we had a hugely successful garden that produced a bumper crop of tomatoes and other vegetables. That solidified our resolve to move ahead with turning our yard into a food producing restorative landscape for both man and nature. The fall of 2013 brought about the removal of our 32’x16′ above ground swimming pool (which covered our best gardening areas of the lower backyard). We then proceeded to restructure our yard and in the subsequent years we’ve created the resulting urban garden/orchard system seen in this plotmap:
Here’s some photos of our backyard from the End of Summer/Early Fall of 2016:
Hopefully this is just the beginning and you’ll enjoy our blog posts and videos we’ll be posting in the coming weeks/years down the road. If you’d like to jump to our Youtube channel you can follow this link:
Let the adventure begin!