I clearly remember the vacation at the beach over Labor Day of 2017 where I was trying to decide what sort of backyard farming venture to go after. I had spent hour after hour watching my micro-farm heroes on YouTube as they built their micro-empires in their backyard farms. I believed it was possible to do it myself in a theoretical sense. Although I never took the time to put my vision on paper, as I remember it my goals for my micro-farm were to:
- Satisfy my innate desire to grow things in my backyard (I grew up on 800 acres and LOVE farming)
- Have a family activity that would teach my young children to experience hard work with a joyful attitude
- Find a way to practice entrepreneurship with my wife and children while making money with my venture
- Go at it with as minimal financial investment as possible
- Make a focused, sustained effort at a backyard micro-farm so I would not let the next 30 years pass by and wonder, "Why did I never take any steps toward making an entrepreneurial effort at something I love doing as a hobby?"
I felt so lost in the possibilities of what I could grow, how I should prep the ground, what sort of irrigation equipment I would need; it seemed like, once again, I was putting myself on the bench before I even allowed myself to take a shot. Thankfully, my big-vision wife pressed me with just enough "take-a-risk" encouragement even my internal risk-averse self was having a hard time backing away from the idea of having a backyard farm. Once I listed the resources I would need to get started with my first phase and get seeds in the ground, I estimated a $600 investment. Not pocket change for us, but not too steep of a risk to deflate my inner-little-farm-boy excitement.
I settled on growing spinach for several reasons I'll cover later, but as I was making the first moves toward starting my farm, I had no idea who I was going to sell my produce to, and very little idea of how I would harvest, manage my post harvest activities, marketing, selling, invoicing or the delivery process. I had to temporarily defer the doubts these unknowns drove me toward.
I'm so glad I did. It's been such an adventure, but I can say with complete honesty, although it's been really challenging, I've hit my goals. Financially, it's been a $1000 per month side hustle that paid for the investment I made in less than 2 months. My wife and children were involved since day 1, spreading 15 tons of soil with me and planting the seeds and watching them sprout. My beautiful farm-wife and I have a terrible time getting our littles to eat veggies, but something changed when they planted the seeds, watered the field, watched the seeds sprout and leaves mature. They were eating the goods straight from the field!
Farming the suburbs is unusual, and incredible. You can do this, too. It is daunting, but very rewarding and I'll show you how to do it!