Backyard garden biz is growing fast

Homegrown produce from a MyFarm


It seems like people are getting into growing their own. Food that is. Even if there's not a whole lot of space to do it. In San Francisco, Lisa Morehouse reports.

Lisa Morehouse: Shoveling soil into buckets, Trevor Paque looks like a farmer. He's tall and tanned, and wears overalls and a checkered shirt. But instead of riding a tractor, Paque hops on his bike or the bus to get to his crops. His farm is in backyards across San Francisco.

Paque left his job as a mortgage broker and launched a start-up called MyFarm. The idea is simple: install an organic garden at cost in customers' backyards and harvest a box of vegetables four times a month. Customers pay between $25 and $35 a week.

Trevor Paque:

Trevor Paque: Vegetables only have to travel across the backyard.

MyFarm customer Hillary Ball doesn't trust store-bought food labeled "organic." Today, she's thrilled about the heirloom seeds MyFarm's planting in her backyard.

Paque: Here's some spinach, gourmet baby greens . . .

She watches a team from MyFarm plant heirloom seeds in her backyard.

Hillary Ball: It's the ultimate control freak's way to control what's coming into your house and what's going into your body.

Ball is typical of MyFarm customers. She doesn't have the time or skills to grow her own organic vegetables.

Ball: I have a black thumb, I can't grow anything. Everything dies.

Since May, MyFarm has installed more than 50 gardens, and is gearing up to expand. The company is developing an operating manual and training videos for farmers.

Jonathon Landeck is with the Center for Agro Ecology and Sustainable Food Systems at UC Santa Cruz. He sees opportunity for MyFarm's decentralized business model.

Jonathon Landeck: What this system does is it really challenges the structures that we have in place for food production and distribution.

Paque started MyFarm after doing a low-budget market test: he put an ad on Craigslist. Two hundred responses in 20 minutes told him he was onto something. To recruit customers, MyFarm put up 50 flyers in San Francisco neighborhoods.

Paque: We've been so busy since we've never had a chance to do any marketing again.

MyFarm has reaped close to $90,000 in revenue since May.

In San Francisco, I'm Lisa Morehouse for Marketplace.

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I was informed of this topic recently even though all I listen to is NPR while driving, and missed this.

As a tree grower for 30 years in South Florida. I am now converting a portion of our land from ornamental nursery production to food production including vegetables, and fruit trees all grown in a fabric container (geo-textile) that is vastly superior to traditional plastic nursery containers (cooler rootzone temperatures, excellent drainage, and unsurpassed air exchange) these are all very important considerations for any plant growth. I must state that I have a patent on this container which is known in the nursery trade as the Jackpot and market them historically to large wholesale nurseries.

For all those interested in additional insights in this contemporary victory garden movement, and the method I am referring to a visit to Miller Mackenzie.com, will help to further illuminate. Your own local and fresh food is possible at least to some degree for anyone who has sunshine, water, and some space even it happens to be minimal. And I believe this will help everyone to overcome their past plant growing problems as it makes it so much easier simply because of the containers porosity. To those in other area of the U.S. or outside of the U.S. these containers are very light and ship flat so they are essentially available anywhere. I hope this is taken in the spirit in which I am posting as it's intent is to help others be successful in this meaningful endeavor.

Local & decentralized could be a way we meet many of our needs as energy intensive systems make less and less sense in a world of more and more people. I think a blind spot around food is thinking of how many/much resources are used to transport food to your table. If food could tell a story, local food would make us smile. This has been done on a wide scale with the Victory Garden Programs of WWI & WWII. There were 20 MILLION "urban" gardens that produced 40% of the total fruits & veggies consumed domestically in the US in 1944. The know-how and motivation where there then. . .is it here now? Are there parallel imperatives between a world in peril from war and one from global warming? In a sublime way, growing your own is part of the answer to both I believe. Get growing!

Organic, no-till gardening is the way to go.

This is a wonderful story and program. I live in a town home with no land space. I do have a strawberry pot with my herbs and spices also I have encouraged my good friend who lives in a home with a backyard, to compost and plant a garden. I've offered to 'work' the plot for them. After listening to this news peice, I'm furhter inspired carry out this project and to extend it others.While this is not a new phenomenon, as subsistent farming has been ongoing since the begining of time. In Jamaica where I'm from this method of farming/gardening is how my single mother was able to sustain our nutrition affordably. However, I must comment that I'm tired of people associating BLACK with everything negative. Whatever Hillary Hall meant that she has a black thumb, hence can't grow anything. Did she mean a White thumb?

I love the angle of appealing to the organic control freak. I wonder how they ward off unwanted critters. I wish someone would pick up the idea and run on down with it to Monterey!

Yippee!!!!!!! I love this story. I think this should be my next career. I am a registered nurse who drives to work every day, does some good for people, but I think this is doing some good for people and the earth, environment, culture, children and my karma.

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