Last fall, as the days grew short, CSA shares made their final distributions, and temperatures dropped, my friend came to me with a question. He enjoyed his CSA share and was wondering if he should sign up again for the next season. I mentioned that I thought he could grow most of the veggies he enjoyed in this year’s share in his small back yard and supplement his harvest with purchases at the farmer’s market. I estimated that the cost of starting a garden and making a few purchases from the market would be less than that of a CSA share. He was intrigued and open to trying it out for a season.
I realized I had never actually done personal back yard gardening in a city. I grew up with a large garden in a rural community. I maintain the school gardens in Somerville. I’ve never had access to yard space while in the city, so I’ve grown choice vegetables along the edge of my of roof-covered porch. Last year I even snuck chard and cherry tomatoes into my landlord’s flower beds. I’d never, however, built and maintained raised beds for myself just outside my own back door. I was excited about the prospect of participating in my friend’s growing experiment!
After getting permission from the other users of his back yard space, we began to plan. I would act as an adviser; he would be the garden manager and primary consumer. I’d document the process so others could learn from our successes and challenges. By the fall, we’d know how much work it really takes and how much we could realistically grow in 70 square feet of the back yard. We welcome you to check in with our progress, offer tips or lessons you’ve learned from back yard gardening, and ask questions as we enjoy a season of urban gardening. Maybe you can even start one for yourself!