1/8 Acre Urban Farm

Welcome to our 1/8 urban farm, where the first 7 years of our adventure began!

Ever wonder what it might be like to take an average city lot and turn it into an urban farm? Well, the truth is, we didn’t plan this whole adventure when we moved into our home in 2007, but an urban farm it happily became, none-the-less!

Our home was your average home, nothing special by any stretch of the imagination.  Here are some details:

  • Built in the 1980’s
  • 1600 square feet
  • Two stories (living area downstairs, bedrooms upstairs)
  • Single car garage/storage area
  • Three bedrooms
  • Two & 1/2 bathrooms
  • Sits in a modest neighborhood surrounded by the hustle and bustle of some very busy roads
  • Considered a “single family dwelling” even though our home shares a wall with our direct neighbor)

The size and specs of the land were also pretty average for our area and our socio-economic status:

  • 1/8 acre (5,445 square feet)
  • Landscaping consisted of rocks covered by weed cloth and another layer of rocks + juniper tree and bushes

What did we do to turn a blank slate into a working urban farm that might inspire you?

The large picture above shows a graphic representation (aerial view) of the property and can give you an idea of what our entire property turned urban farm might look like if you were a cartoon bird flying overhead, but it doesn’t give you the whole picture.  So here are a few details to show you what it took over the course of a few years to turn our postage stamp of dead earth into an 1/8 acre urban farm.

Front yard early evolution into urban farm

Front Yard

  • Pull out Juniper bushes by street and plant Russian Sage
  • Cut down Juniper tree
  • Tear down half wall
  • Build 6 foot tall wooden fence
  • Remove all gravel, weed cloth and more gravel
  • Till entire yard
  • Amend dead soil with nutrients rich soil and compost
  • Build raised and ground level vegetable beds
  • Plant fruit trees (two espalier apples, one espalier pear, one cherry, one apricot)
  • Plant drought tolerant patch of grass
  • Put in a rain barrel for water catchment
  • Put in drip irrigation
  • Mulched all of the paths
  • Added in a couple of seating areas
  • With help and inspiration, we’ve sown a million seeds

Backyard early evolution to urban farm

Back yard

  • Build dog run
  • Create compost pile (using straw bales)
  • Amend dead soil with nutrient rich soil and compost
  • Build chicken coop, then chicken mansion
  • Build two chicken brooders (one indoor and one outdoor)
  • Build ground level and raised beds
  • Put in drip irrigation
  • Put in two rain barrels for water catchment
  • Built a Top Bar bee hive
  • Built vertical pallet beds as screen for our bee hive and for a bit of extra growing space
  • Built an amazing potting table
  • Put in a small fire pit and various seating areas
  • Mulched a walking path

Urban Farm Garden Collage

Some garden specs:

  • We created ~165 square feet of raised bed growing space (~115 sq. ft. in the back yard and ~50 in the front yard)
  • We also created ~260 square feet of ground level growing space
  • Our rain barrels held a total of 175 gallons of water to help offset our water usage during our continued drought conditions

Perennials currently include:

  • Strawberries
  • Rhubarb
  • Grapes
  • Echinacea
  • Random bulbs (tulips, daffodils and hostas)
  • Two rose bushes
  • Ivy along the back wall in the backyard

Fruit Trees on our Urban Farm

A Little about our fruit trees:

Four of our five trees are spliced with different varieties of the same fruit. Here’s how it broke down (You can read more HERE, too):

  • Our two apple trees are espalier. Each tree has four main branches and each branch carries a different variety of apples: Red Fuji, Gala, Granny Smith and Golden Delicious.
  • Our Pear tree is also espalier and is spliced with four main branches and four varieties of pears: Red Bartlett, Red Anjou, Bartlett and Comice
  • Our Cherry tree is not espalier, but it is spliced with four main branches and four varieties of cherries: Bing, Lapins, Van and Rainer
  • Our Apricot tree is simply a dwarf…No splicing, no espalier.

Seeds and starts:

  • Built a grow light stand to start all our own seeds each season
  • Saved our own seeds from tomatoes, greens, squash and corn where possible

Food preservation techniques learned and used:

Chickens and bees:

What started out as five little chicks in the spring of 2011 grew to a max flock of 20 at one point! Read about some of our reflections HERE.

Backyard chicken coops

Additionally, our adventures in bee keeping have been all over the place. We are currently without bees after our heartbreaking loss, but are in the process of ordering our next batch as we speak. We are determined to help the bees in every way possible.

Honey Bee collage

What else did we dream of learning about and doing on our little urban farm? You know, in an ideal world with unlimited resources, time and energy?

  • Install a small green house or build a cold frame
  • Rid the backyard of the remaining gravel
  • Practice crop rotation
  • Intensify companion planting
  • Become successful at succession planting
  • Assess compost and chicken interaction
  • Utilize vertical growing space better
  • Learn the art of fermentation
  • Assess the keeping of rabbits for either fiber or meat
  • We leaned a lot about how to work smarter, not harder 😉

:::

Unplanned, we left our little Urban Farm in the summer of 2014 for the next adventure and began renting a portion of an old hacienda on ~6 acres!

We quickly figured out that that move was not the best move for our family and hopped several miles further north, landing on a phenomenal 11 acre homestead where we are currently practicing our skills and regularly getting our asses handed to us…and loving every minute of it…while we continue to prepare ourselves for our “forever farm”. (Yes, we are renters!)

Ever Growing, indeed 🙂

xoxo,
M

PS –
Want to know a bit more about our postage stamps journey into becoming an urban farm? Here are a couple of older posts about our journey from the grey, rock filled, dead earth world to the green, living world we created…