Urban blight got you down? Farm your city

garden box
garden box

My friends and neighbors and I are catching on to the latest sustainability movement: farming your front yard. It's variously called "Food Not Lawns" or "Edible Estates" or "Urban Homesteading" or simply "gardening." But it's not just about growing a little food, eating local, saving money, or helping the planet; it can also be about making money.

And it's not new, or American. In fact, Cubans have been farming urban plots for decades. An AP story yesterday tells of a woman whose government job was cut back to $3 a month. She took advantage of a government program (championed by Raul Castro) that supported urban farming and took over a 1/2 acre plot. Now she makes $100 to $250 a month growing spinach, sweet potatoes and spinach, and selling them to her neighbors. Every penny she makes goes straight to her own pocket, and she's feeding her family in the bargain.

As Americans increasingly grow disillusioned with an economy that's built to work them long, hard hours, far from home, rarely spending time outdoors or with their family, never cooking their food; as consumers demand more and more locally- and sustainably-grown produce; urban farming is becoming exceedingly attractive. A friend recently contacted me with a proposal: a woman she knew was growing food in her backyard to sell to local restaurants. Might I help her?

With a huge, sunny, fertile backyard and a developing interest in gardening, I was all for it.