Published by City Farmer, Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture


$$$ From Your Garden

arable acres

by Michael Levenston
Copyright (C) City Farmer 1995-99

Most people who garden in the city eat their own produce marveling at what they've accomplished . Sometimes they share their harvest with friends, or perhaps the Food Bank. But those ripe red tomatoes and artichoke heads represent dollars when priced at the supermarket and it's fun to dream about how much all that food is worth.

We had an neighbour who supported himself through university growing just garlic in his backyard. He braided it and sold it at a premium in local stores. Another friend grew edible flowers and herbs and then sold them to local restaurants.

Fifteen years ago City Farmer published a short article titled Arable Acres Within City Limits in which we attempted to add up the number of acres of vacant land in Vancouver, determine how much produce could be grown on it by city folk and then put a price on the total. It became our most quoted and requested piece.

Though the research was simply a rough estimate, it got readers dreaming about growing all their own vegetables and soft fruit.

A number of publications continue to whet our appetite for the gold that might be lying on the back 1000 sq. ft.

The Small Commercial Garden
How to Make $10,000 a Year in Your Backyard

by Dan Haakenson, 1995
From: PC-Services
PO Box 7294,
Bismark, ND 58507-7294, USA
Phone: 1-800-871-4296

"Design information for a model garden that will produce
over $10,000 of vegetables from less than 1/3 acre."
Cash From The Square Foot Garden

by Mel Bartholomew, 1985
From: Storey Publishing,
Schoolhouse Rd., Pownal, Vermont, USA

" can net as much as $5,000 in the growing season
just gardening part-time."

Case Studies of Entrepreneurial Community Greening Projects

by Katherine Frohardt, 14 pgs., 1993
From: ACGA 325 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, Pa. 19106 USA

"From these five case studies it is clear that market gardens and related revenue generating activities on urban lots offer exciting opportunities -- the potential for economic return; new training forums; the opportunity to attract new participants and program partners and funders."
Backyard Homestead Mini-Farm & Garden Log Book

by John Jeavons, J. Mogador Griffin & Robin Leler, 1983
Ten Speed Press
PO Box 7123, Berkeley, CA 94707 USA

"We wanted to establish how much land it would take to provide a living income - or to provide all one's food needs - in other words, to be totally self-sufficient.

"We developed a mini-farming scenario in which it might be possible for one person to make $5,000 to $20,000 net per year (based on wholesale prices) on only 1/8 of an acre (including paths), working 40 hours per week for 8 months, and then taking a 4 month vacation."

John Jeavons and associates continue to teach and research at:
Ecology Action/Common Ground
5798 Ridgewood Rd.
Willits, CA 95490-9730 USA
National Gardening Survey

Conducted by the Gallop Organization for 'Gardens For All'
From: Gardens For All
180 Flynn Avenue
Burlington Vermont 05401 USA
Phone: 802 863-1308
Cost: $350. (Discounts for non-profits)

Since the 1970's, Gardens For All has published statistical reports which chart U.S. garden trends. Last year 3/4 of all US homes had gardens and 31% of these grew food crops representing 30 million homes.

Sell What You Sow!
The Grower's Guide To Successful Produce Marketing

by Eric Gibson, 1994
From: New World Publishing
3701 Clair Dr.
Carmichael, CA 95608, USA

"Farms in metropolitan areas, which comprise only 16 percent of U.S. land area, account for more than two-thirds of fruit and vegetable sales. Yet faced with urban development pressures, future small scale farmers must become involved with specialized intensive production systems. Further, their marketing skills must be honed to a sharp edge; maximum returns must be obtained from all production."

Economics of Home Gardening

Arable Acres Within City Limits

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Revised January 25, 1999

Published by City Farmer
Canada's Office of Urban Agriculture