One Girl in Portales

A Clovis & Portales Survival Guide

My Own Urban Food Farm

Homegrown veggies love the sunny days and cool nights.

Homegrown veggies love the sunny days and cool nights.

Who would have guessed that I’d move to New Mexico and become a homesteader? All I know is that when it comes to gardening… I’ve got this!!

This area is rumored to be a desert. While that might be a fact by scientific standards, I find this area to be quite mild and forgiving in comparison to the rock and dust that I grew up with. (enter plant life) Gardening is not a lost cause! Its freakin’ beautiful out there! It RAINED today! So, next time you start feeling a little home sick for mama’s garden, remember to not discount your own possibilities. It happens here people, I promise.

I don’t know how long that you’ve been following, but, I have officially purchased a house! My FIRST house! (Please no congrats, lets get right to business) I finally could rip up my yard and put down some real, non crap, good for the soul… FOOD. *boom* This was happening. There were some major hurdles with this idea. 1- My new house is 100% xeroscaped and 2- I have no IDEA what I’m about to sign myself up for. Don’t worry though, I learn that later.

 

When we first got this house we referred to this space as 'ground zero'.

When we first got this house we referred to this space as ‘ground zero’.

better ground zero

This is mid- project. We haven’t added any top soil yet at this point.

 

I didn’t have a plan per se. I just had a dream. I knew what I wanted but had no idea how I was going to get there. What I wanted was an urban organic food factory, built with love and friends. I needed to create a place that was friendly en masse. Eco friendly, belly friendly, ect. Water was a HUGE puzzle. I thank my lucky stars everyday for Youtube videos and the Golden Library.

We took up a patch of rocks in my barren lifeless yard and found under it not only dark Earth but also a few accompanying earth worms and that… is a miracle! Turns out this house is built on old farm land and we struck some urban farm gold lottery. Shortly after the miraculous discovery, I hosted a Labor for Labor Sunday and sunk beds into the ground. (Side note: Labor for Labor Sunday is when a group of people come by one persons house to donate 3 labor hours. The group takes turns at each laborer’s home to help ease the burden of home improvement and to provide the opportunity to learn new skill sets) The Garden Source sells organic top soil for about $5 a bag, so topping off our beds was cheap. So far this endeavor has cost me a few bucks and a few hours of elbow grease.

 

You'd be surprised by the stuff you can grow out here in the High Plains!

This area’s sunny days and cool nights are perfect for many veggie varieties.

I love gardening because I can grow things I don't usually find at stores. PURPLE basil being one of them.

I love gardening because I can grow things I don’t usually find at stores. PURPLE basil being one of them.

 

The next big deal was water. The aquifer is pretty much empty and I don’t want chlorine in my veggies, not because it will kill me, but because I’m picky. We added gutters to the back end of our house so we could create a way to collect rain water. This is possibly the hardest sounding thing ever but it took no time at all. This crazy thing called technology has advanced so much that snap together gutters cost only $6 each at Lowe’s and are easier to assemble than just about anything from Ikea. We attached our rain barrel very haphazardly at first, partly because we all had a few too many… um… sodas??? (I don’t drink soda) Since then we have cleaned up the Labor for Labor Sunday string theory.

 

water

There was a point in life when 3 adults considered this a reasonable idea. HOT MESS.

 

What I found the most shocking is that people thought I was crazy for adding a rain harvester to my house. Yeah, I know its a desert. BUT. IT. RAINS. I have 60 gallons of free water sitting in my yard waiting to be used from just the slightest rain. Its worth it. I think people should take advantage of it too because there are towns and cities that have made water harvesting illegal.

The beds are down, the free water is happening… this lead me to believe I was able to expand… and by expand I mean.. chickens.

The country store sells chickens by the sixes. When my adorable environmentalist girlfriend (Molly, love her.) told me she purchased 6 chickens and wanted to split with someone, I jumped at the chance. Ahhhh!!! Birds!!! Eggs. This was going to up my urban farm game big time. Since the addition of live poultry, I will admit that I feel like a real urban farmer.

 

The newest addition to my thriving urban food farm!

The newest addition to my thriving urban food farm!

 

I’m still in the process of learning but I’m going full throttle. Gardening is one of those things that you never stop learning more about. I’ve started sharing the knowledge that I’ve acquired with people in the neighborhood. We host little gardening classes right out of my own yard and everyone is hopping on the ‘I can do this’ train.

 

I did a lot of research and found so many wonderful books on paperbackswap.com for FREE!

I did a lot of research and found so many wonderful books on paperbackswap.com for FREE!

 

The truth is that you can do this. Its a desert but don’t let that title get under your skin. We get a lot of sun. We’ve got plenty of info out there and most importantly… water is precious. Get it free from the sky! Don’t be the guy who waters their lawn mid day when there is a sand timer happening on the local water source. Its easy but its important. Start with zucchinis and you cannot fail.

Happy gardening!

Some more great reads on the subject:

Urban Farm Online

Radical Homemakers

Farewell, My Subaru

Farm City 

4 comments on “My Own Urban Food Farm

  1. Inspiring! i can’t wait to turn our ground zero into edible goodness!

  2. Chanee
    July 12, 2014

    I live in clovis and would love to see how your garden is doing. I would love to go your route and have an organic garden and chickens but I am terrible at growing!

  3. Melodie K.
    July 17, 2014

    OK, not for the new house ~ but I must give you a “Congrats!” for the serious work you’ve done with the garden ~ with watering system and everything. Gives hope to future gardeners (like me) in the high desert!

  4. John P.
    August 19, 2014

    I’m in the process of building a new greenhouse in my back yard based on aquaponics. Glad to see I’m not the only one gardening in their back yard

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