The OC Metro Farm is a microfarm in urban Orange County.  Originally, much of the ‘farm’ existed on less than 3000 square feet of excellently to marginally sun lit space at our house. In the last year, however, we have found other places to ‘farm’.  The local community garden, where we now have two plots.  A nearby stable.  A local school agricultural program.  And a local school garden.  The backyards of friends who live nearby. The real trick to urban farming is finding the space-anywhere that space might be!

We have chickens, rabbits, quail, koi, and tilapia.   We participate in a ‘rent-a-cow’ share and are thinking about pigs!  We also have two akita dogs.  Last summer, we harvested over 400 pounds of tomatoes, as well as sunberries, ground cherries, eggplant, peppers, onions, garlic, butternut squash, pumpkin, zucchini, scallopini squash, cucumbers, various winter squashes, figs, plums, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, carrots, beets, radishes, and lettuce.

Two years ago, we added a greenhouse so that we can grow our own seedlings and sow some plants which are not easily found.  Ground cherries, strawberry spinach, cardoon, chinese lantern, and sunberry are a few of the lesser known plants we managed to raise.  

We use raised beds, container gardening (on our roof), and aquaponics to grow our vegetables and some of our fruits.  Most of our fruit trees grow on our adjacent City boulevards or in really large pots. We are putting a mini vineyard into one of our community garden plots.  We feed our animals corn free and soy free organic feed and ‘trim’ from our local Mother’s market.   And spent beer grains from our local pub.  We also feed our chickens all sorts of kitchen scraps.  They particularly love pizza and vegetarian squash lasagna.

No one at the Sly Farm has a naturally green thumb.  The only plants I’d ever successfully grown before we started this enterprise are carnivorous plants.  I have highland nepenthes that are pushing 14 years old.  We read.  We research.  And we have a number of excellent resources that we regularly review.  Some of our projects fail.  Utterly.  I have yet to harvest more potatoes than I plant.  Although Bryn had a pretty good crop this past year.  This winter, we just gave the 9 year old all the potatoes and said, plant ’em.  She has more than a dozen plants coming up.  My mealworm colony project is an ongoing challenge.  Well, truthfully, the bin is currently sadly empty, largely because the first attempt was such a dismal failure. Ants found the worms. It was horrifyingly Wild Planet.

No one ever learned to grow vegetables and raise a variety of animals overnight.  It’s a process.  Fortunately, we have raised all kinds of animals over the years.  Mice, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, snakes, fish, turtles, cats, and dogs have all been welcome in our house at one time or another.  Note: birds are nowhere on this list.   Anything really worth doing, though, deserves a good effort.  And we think growing and raising our own food is worth doing.