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Tiny city farms taking root in backyards

Bee Ayer, left, the farm manager at the Youth Farm, works with volunteers. BK Farmyards is a Brooklyn-based decentralized farm network growing food in under-utilized land around Brooklyn, including schoolyards, backyards and vacant lots.

Communities get gardening bug

By Janet Whitman
Financial Post
August 24, 2010


New York City is dotted with more than 10,000 acres of unused land and Stacey Murphy would like to see it lush with tomatoes, cucumbers and arugula.

The architect-turned-urban farmer started a business in Brooklyn last summer that’s turning backyards, vacant lots, and school property into organic garden plots.

With the motto, “You have the land, we grow the produce,” Ms. Murphy’s company, BK Farmyards, offers a new twist on sharecropping.

In exchange for some “seed” money and a sizable share of the harvest, her team will show up in private backyards and empty lots to install planting beds and irrigation systems, plant, and then tend to the crops for the growing season.

“Urban farming can have a direct impact on a very local community,” says Ms. Murphy, a 36-year old Michigan native. “A lot of neighbourhoods don’t have access to fresh produce.”

Her ultimate aim is to help create a financially sustainable model for urban agriculture with a large network of tiny farms throughout the city.

See the complete story here.