On just a tenth of an acre (6000 square feet) in Berkeley, California, the owners of an average home in an average neighborhood are doing something most of us have never tried: they grow nearly all their own food. “I think what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to farm the city basically,” explains resident Mateo Rutherford.
Not only do they grow vegetables like carrots, cabbage, cauliflower and kale, as well as fruit like apples and cherries, but they raise bees and chickens, rabbits and goats, providing their dairy and meat.
While such an extensive urban farm is a rarity in this century, Rutherford sees it as simply a swing back toward the more sustainable lifestyle of two generations ago. “My grandparents generation they raised a significant portion of their own food. Then we went through this period where convenience was the name of the game and cheap petroleum. And now I think my generation we’re starting to realize the benefits of producing your own food.”
For Rutherford and Green Faerie Farm co-homeowner Jim Montgomery, their farm is not a reaction to a difficult economic situation, but rather to a food production system that is “tragic on so many levels”. “The value we have as a household is attempting to live sustainably in the world today,” explained Montgomery to the San Francisco Chronicle, “We’re growing a victory garden against having to use so much oil.”
Instead of contributing to oil use by consuming food that has to be transported from industrial farms- traveling an average of 1000 miles from farm to plate-, the Green Faerie owners eat most of their food that travels simply 50 feet. Nor does their food require petroleum inputs in the form of fertilizers or pesticides; instead, they produce organic vegetables and meat through a closed-loop system, by letting the animal waste fertilize the garden and the garden waste feed the goats.
In this video, Rutherford showed us their working backyard and talked about local, low-energy food production.
We also have more videos on the household’s milking goats, their bees and their urban orchard.
We also have articles on the urban garden renaissance: Why we all will be gardeners and Obama’s plot & recession gardens.