Plug and Play Gardens Brings Ancient Irrigation to Portland, Oregon – Ollas!


ancient ways

Hello to the Farm My Yard community. Albert has very graciously invited me to share information about an amazing irrigation technique—called an Olla—with all of you.

First of all, I should introduce myself. My name is Luisa and I have a company called Plug and Play Gardens, which offers earth-friendly solutions to organic gardeners.

Second, I should answer the most frequently asked question, “What’s an Olla?” An Olla is a porous clay pot. Using an Olla is really simple. You bury the pot in the ground, fill it with water and then plant flowers and vegetables around the pot. The Olla slowly releases water into the surrounding soil, irrigating your plants slowly over time.

There are lots of reasons to use Ollas especially here in Portland where we have long, dry summer. Putting Ollas in your garden means that you’ll use less water and that you’ll have to water your flowers and vegetables much less frequently. You can use Ollas directly in the ground, in raised beds or in very large containers.

Here in Portland I use one Olla in the middle of a 4’ x 4’ raised bed. And even during the driest part of summer last year, I was filling my Olla only once every 4 to 5 days. Using an Olla freed me from watering everyday. Best of all, using an Olla keep my veggies happy and healthy all season.

You can read my Top Ten Reasons to Use Ollas on my Website at It will be gardening season soon, and I invite everyone in the neighborhood to check out the Ollas I’ve installed in my front yard…or just come by to say hi!

Farm My Yard t-shirts Are Available for Purchase

Get your Farm My Yard t-shirts Today!

Farm My Yard T-shirts


Farm My Yard: The Shirts are Here! – July 2015… Get a shirt, already!

Watch how they’re made! (video link)




Farm My Yard T-shirt Designs

New T-Shirt Design for Farm My Yard

We started with a neat design (see original below) and are now down to picking from these 6.  If you have a favorite, please leave your comments in the comment section below. I hope to have t-shirt available for ordering by the end of 2014 or start of 2015. Thanks to Kevin of KMF Illustration for his incredible work on this design!








Farm My Yard t-shirt design

Farm My Yard t-shirt design (where we started :)

Rogue Farm Corps – Training the Next Generation of Farmers and Ranchers

Rogue Farm Corps

“Hi all — I’m sending along a little promo for Rogue Farm Corps’ experiential on-farm internships available for 2015 on family farm operations in Oregon (including our new Portland-area chapter). If you know any individuals or groups/lists that might be interested in this, please pass along as you see appropriate. Many thanks in helping to spread the word about these opportunities for aspiring farmers!” -Matt

New Farmers Needed. Be one in a million— Join Rogue Farm Corps in 2015! Applications are now open for positions throughout Oregon.

FarmsNext is an entire season of hands-on training and skill-based education in sustainable agriculture for aspiring farmers and ranchers. This immersive on-farm experience combines field training with a mentor farmer, classroom learning with agricultural professionals and expert farmers, tours of local farms, and opportunities for farm-based independent study. Positions available on a diverse network of commercial family farms in four communities across Oregon. No experience necessary to apply. More info here.

FarmsNOW is a two-year advanced training program designed for the student who has a solid foundation of farm experience, and the goal of managing a farm operation. This program will propel beginning/intermediate farmers to the next level of planning, designing and running integrated farming systems. FarmsNOW is for those seeking mastery in the art and business of farming. Candidates must have two years, or equivalent, of vegetable production experience. More info here.

Rogue Farm Corps trains the next generation of farmers and ranchers through hands-on educational programs. Our host farms are located in four cluster around Oregon: the Rogue Valley, the Portland Metro Area, the South Willamette Valley, and Central Oregon. For complete program descriptions, information on our host farms, and applications, visit our website:

Portland Ecofilm Festival & Supreme Growers – Happy Summer from Farm My Yard!

Summer 2014 Update

Hi there,
I hope you’re having a great Summer.  I’ve been having fun this Summer – hearing of successful urban farming activities around the country and enjoying growing my first broccoli! Here is a small smattering of what’s come through the pipeline, recently.
I recently heard from Supreme Growers – and they’ve sent me some of their products to try and given us a sweet review on their website. They write: “Supreme Growers recently discovered the Farm My Yard movement and we love the initiative to help motivate and inspire communities in Portland and around the world to be urban gardeners. Supreme Growers is a new company created to help new and veteran gardeners grow the healthiest plants they can without using harsh chemicals that damage the environment. We are on a mission to help educate everyone on the benefits of growing your own plants and to prove that gardening is accessible to everyone. We believe in sustainability and understand that what we put in our soils affects the quality of the food and flowers we grow. We are excited to be a part of the movement and we are donating some of our gardening kits and concentrated pods to the cause!  We look forward to helping spread the word! To learn more about us visit
There’s a great Portland Ecofilm Festival going on right now at the Hollywood Theater. Thanks to the organizer, Dawn Smallman, last night I got the chance to see a really neat short film about growing food on a giant Brooklyn Rooftop = Brooklyn Farmer – check out the trailer, here. If you’d like to come and see any of the upcoming films – please send me word and I’ll see if I can get you tickets. We are one of the supporting organizations of the film festival. Also, keep an eye out on the Farm My Yard fan page, as I’ve been offering the free tickets via a simple posting, there :)  
Like us on Facebook Blue
I hear from people almost every day from around the world who are curious about Farm My Yard – how to do it, how to meet people who’d be interested in farming their yards, etc. Farm My Yard to me is a very DIY process – one can take the information from the website and run with it. I’m still working on creating an app for the program, but for now, it’s a matter of putting up a sign, and/or sourcing a place to farm for yourself via the hand-out on the home page of the website. If you have any energy to take this project to another level (printing out signs; working on the fan page; website, etc.) – please get in touch!
Here’s to all the progress we’re making in getting more yards farmed.  Or, as my friend, Marcia, says – more Fards Yarmed! If you have news to announce or would like to share pictures of your success, please send them back to me @ – also, I make a living teaching social media and email marketing – if you’re in the Portlandia area – please come to an upcoming class (see below) and say hi!  
I hope your Summer gardening is going well!
Albert Kaufman
Portlandia, Oreganic!


iFarm: a great farm land resource for Oregonians wishing to farm


This is a great way to find land in Oregon available to farm! It’s called the iFarm program! Enjoy!

How iFarm Works

To contact any of the landowners or farmers on iFarm, you must first complete a questionnaire describing your opportunity (for landholders) or your goals, experience, and plans (for landseekers). Once completed and approved, this information is entered into our online database (online and pdf questionnaires are below) and you may then contact any of our iFarm participants.

To search our database, click on the link above, then select the type of iFarm participant you are looking for and click either “View Listings” or “Advanced Search Options.” “View Listings” displays every listing in the category that you’ve checked and “Advanced Search Options ” allows you to narrow your search by region. Listings are displayed in order from oldest first to newest at the end.

To contact a participant, go to their listing and click on the words “click here” at the bottom of the page, under the “Tools” heading. That generates an email to We will then give that participant your contact information and let them know that you would like to speak with them. It is up to them to contact you back.

Qualifications: Anyone who is serious about finding or offering land to farm may participate, so long as we understand that they do currently, and intend to continue to, abide by all applicable ordinances and laws.

Confidentiality: iFarm never displays our members contact information publicly or shares it with other organizations, and we do not give out this information to other participants without your express permission.

Current Listings: All listings on iFarm are active, to the best of our knowledge, regardless of the date they were created.
Fee: iFarm is a free service, although we encourage participants to become members of Friends of Family Farmers.


Either fill out this online form, or print our pdf application form in English or Spanish and mail it to ATTN: iFarm * Friends of Family Farmers * PO Box 1286 * Molalla, OR 97038. You can also request this form in an editable Word Doc by emailing
Check out additional resources that will help you to start farming.
Also find out about FarmON!, the Oregon chapter of the National Young Farmers Coalition, on Facebook.


Either fill out this online form, or print our pdf landholder application and mail it to ATTN: iFarm * Friends of Family Farmers * PO Box 1286 * Molalla, OR 97038. You can also request this form in an editable Word Doc by emailing

Dacha Gardens

Dacha Gardens, by Sara Pool
Dacha Garden
Russia has an amazing model for urban agriculture, obtaining over 50% agricultural products from family garden plots. The backyard gardening model uses around 3% arable land, and accounts for roughly 92% of all Russian potatoes, 87% of all fruit 77% vegetables, and 59% all Russian meat according to the Russian Federal State Statistic Service.

The term Dacha comes from the term “landed estate,” and generally refers to an urban garden. Dacha gardens have been around since the Bolshevik Revolution, and have been feeding Russians for over 1,000 years. Since these urban plots are too small for farm machinery, all these gardens are hand tilled, often using crop rotation and solely organic methods, and are ‘intensive’ out of necessity.

This model is not just meant for feeding one family, but is an important part of the local market economy both rurally and in urban areas. 31% of rural gardeners reported their garden was their major source of income. This percentage is lower in urban areas, where excess food is often bartered or traded for services and cannot be accounted in simple economic terms, though is not less valuable. Remaining produce is simply given to neighbors and friends out of a sense of abundance, and accounts for a national sense of food security.

Another advantage of neighborhood food production is the impact it has on lowering inflation for food prices, since large scale agriculture is competing with a local food market. Farm subsidies, food importation, and pesticide/antibiotic use is also lowered with this method, not to mention the social impacts backyard gardening provides to Russians. For more information, check out this comprehensive report on Russian Dacha Gardening.


Welcome blog writer, Sara Pool to the fold!

Sara Pool’s parents swear she was born under a cabbage patch, and has spent most of her life in the garden or wandering around in the woods. A former journalist and landscaper turned mushroom hunter and forager, Sara continues to raise rabbits and grow vegetables wherever she can. She moved from Idaho to form her own company in 2008 with a few packets of seeds and a dream. She has since designed and built what feels like a zillion gardens, conducted workshops, and led tours all over the West Coast.  Sara also served on the Portland Multnomah Food Policy Council and co-chaired the Wild Foods Work Group.

Sara Pool

A wide variety of experiences with farm my yard

I’ve realized all along that each Farm My Yard connection is going to be different. Some will be fantastic, some will not be. Here is one from SE Portlandia that was so-so.  But I think it’s important to note some of the outcomes so we all become more aware of the types of situations that can arise.  Albert, Farm My Yard

“I didn’t take pictures of the garden. I just hired last year’s “share cropper”, today, to plant for me, so I can take pictures of the new garden, but it isn’t part of the original deal of her share cropping with me. I don’t feel comfortable about a radio interview for a number of reasons. But, mostly, because it didn’t quite work out perfectly. The woman who decided to share crop with me had one major goal, to plant a corn crop. But, it turned out there wasn’t enough sun in the yard, so, after many hours of working on the rest of the garden, she gave up the project. I paid her for her time and gave her some produce and then got someone who wanted to take over the watering from there. It turned out to be fairly expensive for me, between buying the plants and watering and paying for her time. She had a good time and put a lot of extra time and love into it and we became friendly. So, it was a fine situation, but not ideal and not exactly what I had intended. If I had a more tight budget, it could have been a hardship for me, but I was able to pay for her time and it was nice to have the garden. (although, I probably wouldn’t have chosen to spend that much money to bother putting in a garden if I had known it would turn out that way, up front). I didn’t want to have to be caring for the garden, and it could have been abandoned, but, it turned out that one of my own flute student decided that he wanted to take over the care of the garden. He took it on as a meditation and daily commitment. He didn’t even take much produce from the garden. He just enjoyed coming by to water. So, it all worked out okay. If the sun had been right for the corn crop, I’m sure my original share cropper person would have continued caring for the garden. But, as they say “life happens” and things change.

In retrospect, I may try this out again sometime in the future – at a home that has better sun access. I’ll be moving at the end of June, so there is no way to begin a major garden project for this summer. I’ve hired the share cropper to clean out the old garden and put in a few veggies that will be edible before I move at the end of June. I knew she would appreciate the work and I thought it would be nice to get to eat some fresh peas, so it is a win-win.”
 Homeowner, SE Portlandia, 3.19.14
Farm My Yard


We were on the telly this week – an interview with KOIN – CBS Channel 6 in Portland. The story has been picked up by CBS affiliates all over the country which has led to a lot of attention! Hurrah – let’s go urban farming revolution!

Seed Balls

seed_bombsDYI Mini Clay Balls:

Perfect for wildflowers, guerilla gardening, or just throwing some seeds, seed balls were invented in Japan by famed organic guru Masanobu Fukuoka. The larges seed balls contain more seeds and are great for empty lots, but mini-seed balls are precise, easy to throw, and eliminates the competition inherent in mass plantings. Mini-seed balls are perfect for carrot, lettuce, radish, and other vegetable or carrot seeds, and can either be thrown or placed in a garden for easy “pelletized” seeding.


Flower/Vegetable seeds
Potter’s clay (Can be purchased in powder form) from any craft shop, or heavy clay soil
Peat-free compost
A bowl
A baking tray


Mix 3 parts clay and compost with one part seeds together until the substance reaches the consistency of play dough, adding water as necessary. Once the ingredients are mixed to a consistency where you can form balls, roll a dime size amount into a ball and let dry for at least three hours.

For an uncommon twist on seed balls, combine flowers and herbs together, or check out Horizon Herbs (‎) and get yourself some rare and medicinal seeds to make mini-herb seed balls.


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