In reading the Lancaster Farming paper today, March 12, 2017. I came across an article about a man, Mike Brown, of Pitspone Farm that has developed a exotic berry plant and fruit business in his backyard in Kendall Park,New Jersey. In his small be it ⅓ acre suburban farm he is able to generate $20,000 a year, working it part time. He has specialized in various berries that grow good in New Jersey and developed a keen sense of what plants do best through trial and error. Some of the types of berries that he grows are Gojis, Red Currants, Gooseberries, and Elderberries. Using locally sourced Organic matter like compost, local horse manure, wood chips, and leaves from local municipalities he is able to not use any synthetic fertilizers to provide for the nutrient needs of his crops. With 1500 plants in containers and more in the ground he is able to maximize the space usage of his small area, and production. About half of his sales are in plants and cuttings. He stated in the article that he sells out of his small harvest rapidly and that there is a growing demand. Some customers driving long distances to buy his berries, plants and cuttings.
Farms like these are exactly the way to that we can save our diverse food supply by small local food production. When you have a ⅓ acre in this kinda maximized production it supports the studies by the World Health Organization and The Rodale Institute that state the only way to feed the growing human population in this planet is through this type of agriculture. The local municipality has it right by allowing this type of strong economic generator of a business in their community. One of the keys to this type of endeavor is finding the key unserved niche and filling it. Perseverance it imperative. Just like he has been doing this for 20 years to get to this point, those involved in these type of businesses need to understand that one bad year or one crop failure is not a reason to throw in the towel. Having a local direct to consumer marketing strategy also helps make this type of business viable.
The keys to successful small urban agricultural businesses as seen in this example are as follows:
- Specialized product
- Direct to consumer local sales
- Supportive local government
- Ability to ride out the trial and error phase
- Passion for the endeavor
It is high time we support, encourage and grow the small local urban food farms.
#urbanfarms #localeconomy #sustainability