It’s hard to imagine being able to farm in an urban area such as Brooklyn. I grew up in Brooklyn, and even back then it was very built up with few open areas. Years later, a creative individual like Stacey Murphy walks those same areas, and figures out how to grow her own food without owning any land! I’ll tell you how she did it and you can do it too!
At the Food Growers Summit today, In her conversation with Gary Heine and Valerie Kausen, Stacey relates her early days and how she got on track to become a leader and educator in local farming. Looking back, she has come along way – amazing for someone who started out with no land.
I found this story fascinating, because she clearly did whatever it took to get to the land. Her story is inspiring, and touches the elemental urge many of us have to grow something – to grow food – as an intrinsic aspect of who we are.
How Did She Do It?
She wanted to farm the land so she went to neighborhoods (in Brooklyn) that had backyards. She walked the streets calling out if anyone had a yard that they wanted farmed. I can just see her walking and calling out – how many people must have thought she was a little loony.
I don’t know about you, but I would not have been able to walk through a strange neighborhood calling out if anyone had a yard they wanted farmed.
But then she scored. She got her first yard to farm and explained to the homeowner what their cut would be – freshly grown food. It was a win-win situation.
The rest is history.
Would you be able to do that? Stacey was passionate about what she wanted and clearly, she is dedicated to helping others return to the land, no matter how small a patch of earth. Check out her achievements below.
Of course, if you have a small plot of land, or even a patio with a few containers, you can grow your own food!
Tips and Tricks
In the talk, Stacey gives many tips for new growers. One is to start with just one or two crops. It is too complicated to start with a lot of different crops because things can happen and you want to be able to deal with it.
Another tip is to spend time in building the soil. Using compost is critical to building the soil and another talk in the Summit will deal with how to make your own compost, quickly and easily.
Stacey highly recommends The Organic Gardener’s Handbook of Natural Pest and Disease Control: A Complete Guide to Maintaining a Healthy Garden and Yard the Earth-Friendly Way (Rodale Organic Gardening Books). This book is very helpful in identifying any pests that may appear on your crops and gives natural methods of dealing with them. This would be good for any type of food grower.
Stacey Murphy is now the founder of BK Farmyards & Farmyard Bootcamp, and is currently working as Co-Director at Ashevillage Institute. Stacey forges innovative community partnerships between growers, eaters, and the land. She has initiated urban farms and CSA’s, curated online and on-the-ground agricultural and entrepreneurial trainings, and co-created hands-on, holistic food systems classes for high school students in Brooklyn, NY. As a real foods advocate, Stacey has been featured in Family Circle, on Martha Stewart Radio, and on David Letterman.
I am very impressed with the conversations I have listened to so far and am very excited to get the new ones each day!