Dacha Gardens, by Sara Pool
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.
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.
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!
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.
Potter’s clay (Can be purchased in powder form) from any craft shop, or heavy clay soil
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 (https://www.horizonherbs.com/) and get yourself some rare and medicinal seeds to make mini-herb seed balls.
CALLING ALL VOLUNTEERS
Help us make a difference in our community.
Welcome to the first Farm My Yard newsletter. You signed up a while back and if you no longer want to receive these – please unsubscribe below. That said – welcome aboard!
I started Farm My Yard a couple years ago – by building a website, starting a FB fan page and also a Twitter account. That has led to some press, and a few people who wanted to see Farm My Yard take off. We had a sign design contest! I held a sign-making party for my birthday in a community garden I helped start which was a blast. And, are you hearing a pattern here? The pattern is the word “I”. And, I realize that I can’t do this alone and so I am reaching out to
If you love the idea of Farm My Yard and the revolution this could spark if urban farmers and landowners they lived near were brought together – if every lawn were turned into a garden – and if we all learned a ton more about how to grow, pick and enjoy eating our own food, fruit, nuts, and more. If you love the idea here are some ideas on helpful actions:
- tell your friends about it
- ask them to sign up for our newletter
- become a guest contributor to the newsletter
- write in something for the website
- share this newletter URL on social media – click the social links above, or view the newsletter in a browser and share that URL
- donate money to the cause – I will spend your donation to print up signs and possibly pay an app developer
- Be the app developer Or, join our team of 1 (not me, actually someone just stepped up to take that on
- Create a sign
- Put it in your yard – and see what happens!!! I’d love to see pictures, hear the story and post them on-line for folks to see!
So, yeah, I’d love to hear from you with offers of help.
You can even post that this effort is looking for support and an infusion of energy!
And, if you want to see some folks who are using the web to get the word out about urban farming in a big way – check out The Urban Farm in Phoenix and join their email list. Greg is doing incredible things and you’ll learn tons!
That’s it for today. I hope your planting/planning for Spring is going well. And that you are thriving in 2014.
I look forward to hearing from you,
Farm My Yard
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Well, it’s almost Fall – just a few more days till Summer’s over. And I thought I’d share some of my recent thinking about Farm My Yard.
I started this effort a few years ago – with the hopes that thousands of signs would pop up in yards all over Portland and then the world. I figured it would be an amazing way to increase the amount of food being grown in urban settings and have a profound effect on the world. So far, the effect has been somewhat minimal – and I’m kicking myself that I haven’t put more energy into the project. Â I know somewhere down deep that if 100 signs were to be displayed, that would lead to some profound change. I imagine a world where we’re all spending more time growing our own food and helping each other learn how to get back to the garden
One thing that keeps ticking in my head is this – that if I had $1,000, I’d create the first batch of signs and hand them out at farmers’ markets. Â I have the $ to do this, but sort of feel that it would be great to crowd-source the funds and the effort. Â Because I don’t want this to be about me. Â I want this to be about our common survival and a more interesting future. Â So, I’m open to your thoughts. Â How do you think we can get there? Â Am I barking up the wrong tree? Â Is there a way I haven’t thought of? Â Do you want to be a part of this in some way?
I do have a donate button on this site – it leads directly to my bank account and so far I think $10 have been contributed. Â Perhaps a Kickstarter is the way to go. Â Perhaps it’s fine that this is going at the pace it is. Â I guess time will tell if I’m on the right track or not Â Thanks for listening.
your host, Albert Kaufman
Here’s a neat article that a local blogger wrote recent about Farm My Yard.