Turn your back­yard into an urban farm

In a city where farm-to-ta­ble restau­rants are all the rage, it’s no won­der Toron­to­ni­ans are hop­ping aboard the urban farm­ing trend and grow­ing their own fruits and veg­eta­bles at home. Here are four lo­cal or­ga­ni­za­tions that can help you get started.

Village Post - - Contents - by Nikki Gill

RENT THE CHICKEN

KATE BELBECK (RIGHT), GTA CO-OR­DI­NA­TOR When will peo­ple start re­ceiv­ing chick­ens? Our de­liv­er­ies start in early April and con­tinue through May. We pick up our rentals be­fore Thanks­giv­ing. What does renting chick­ens en­tail? Our stan­dard rental pack­age in­cludes two chick­ens, which will pro­duce about a dozen eggs per week. We sup­ply the feed, a por­ta­ble chicken coop, a book, tu­to­rial and phone num­ber to call with ques­tions. How are the eggs bet­ter? Stud­ies sug­gest farm fresh eggs have one-third less choles­terol, one-quar­ter less sat­u­rated fat and two-thirds more vi­ta­min A than from fac­tory farm hens.

NOT FAR FROM THE TREE

ME­GAN ANEVICH (BOT­TOM RIGHT), PRO­GRAM MAN­AGER How many trees are in­volved? We have 1,700 trees in about 15 wards across the city. What fruits are peo­ple grow­ing? Mainly ap­ples, pears, crabap­ples, apricots, grapes, sweet cher­ries and sour cher­ries. The rare ones are quince, plum, peach and paw­paw tree. How can peo­ple get in­volved? They can vol­un­teer as fruit pick­ers or home­own­ers with trees or de­liver the fruit by bike to part­ner agen­cies. The fruit is split be­tween the home­owner, vol­un­teers and lo­cal food banks, shel­ters and com­mu­nity kitchens.

YOUNG URBAN FARMERS

CHRISTO­PHER WONG, GEN­ERAL MAN­AGER Why did you start YUF? One of the main mo­ti­va­tions was be­ing able to run a sus­tain­able, en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly busi­ness and see the joy peo­ple get from grow­ing their own food. What ser­vices do you pro­vide? YUF pro­vides gar­den­ing set­ups (plant­ing, seed­ing, prepa­ra­tion), gar­den­ing main­te­nance, coach­ing and work­shops. What are you grow­ing this year? Each year we test out a few new va­ri­eties, and this year, we’re ex­cited to grow a large tomato va­ri­ety called “gar­den treasure,” de­vel­oped by the Univer­sity of Florida, that has been bred pri­mar­ily for its flavour.

BACK­YARD URBAN FARM COM­PANY

MARC GREEN, CO-OWNER What made you start BUFCO? We wanted to find a way to give back to our com­mu­nity. What does BUFCO do? We set up ed­i­ble gar­dens and do veg­etable land­scap­ing and main­te­nance for clients. Peo­ple can also pur­chase DIY kits and tend to their own gar­dens. Where do you op­er­ate? Mostly in Mid­town, North York, the An­nex and For­est Hill. What do you grow? Al­most ev­ery­thing you see in the gro­cery store, and we start plant­ing in mid-April. We start by ask­ing what the client likes to eat and go from there.

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