Newsweek article on home farming

As food prices rise and commercial food quality suffers, the idea of growing food at home is taking off as never before. Newsweek magazine has a fairly insightful article on that very topic. Better still, it has links to a number of web sites that I will have to explore in the coming days, such as the blog Beyond The Lawn.

My inspiration was a book entitled The Urban Homestead by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen. This book is especially good if you’re an inexperienced urban farmer who’s looking to start out. I’ve found it inspiring and instructive on things as simple as the idea that mulching your garden will keep water in the ground, regulate the soil temperature, and control erosion. Some of the more detailed things in the book are not well explained, but with a little research, it’s easy to find out what you need to know.

Curiously, the authors of the book The Urban Homestead and the Beyond The Lawn blog both live in Los Angeles. Not exactly the place you would think of as an agricultural haven, but both families have found great personal satisfaction and stronger communities through their urban farming. If it’s possible two blocks off Sunset Avenue, it’s possible in Milwaukee, Waukesha, or anywhere else.


Author: Jason Haas

Jason is an elected member of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, occasionally moonlights as an amateur gardener, and is a proud father of two, or three, depending on how you do the math.

One thought on “Newsweek article on home farming”

  1. Another angle to this story is the backyard commercial farming movement. A growing corps of entrepreneurial farmers throughout the U.S. and Canada are practicing sub-acre SPIN-Farming. SPIN is a franchise-ready vegetable farming system that makes it possible to earn $50,000+ from a half acre. SPIN farmers utilize relay cropping to increase yield and achieve good economic returns by growing only the most profitable food crops tailored to local markets. SPIN’s growing techniques are not, in themselves, breakthrough. What is novel is the way a SPIN farm business is run. SPIN provides everything you’d expect from a good franchise: a business plan, marketing advice, and a detailed day-to-day workflow. In standardizing the system and creating a reproducible process it really isn’t any different from McDonalds.

    By offering a non-technical, easy-to-understand and inexpensive-to-implement farming system, SPIN allows many more people to farm, wherever they live, as long as there are nearby markets to support them. By utilizing backyards and front lawns and neighborhood lots as their land base, SPIN farmers are recasting farming as a small business in cities and towns and helping to make local food production a viable business proposition once again. Most importantly, this is happening without significant policy changes or government supports. You can see some of these entrepreneurial sub-acre farmers in action at

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