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This guest post is by Phyl Martin aka “Mrs. Franger Farm.” Here’s her story of how she got hooked on suburban micro farming in Australia with her family. They live in Frankston South, about an hour from Melbourne by car.
While those of us in the northern hemisphere are finally getting over winter, the Franger Farm is just now coming to the end of a productive summer.
Franger Farm, a Healthy Addiction
It’s hard to say how the obsession started.
I remember reading a book Living the Good Life: How One Family Changed Their World from Their Own Backyard by Linda Cockburn in about 2007. It tells the story of how she and her husband made the decision to try to live sustainably on their suburban block in Queensland, Australia and to avoid spending money for six months.
They were living on half an acre and were able to produce much of the food they needed from this piece of land. They also kept chickens and a goat.
We moved in to our house in late 2003. It came with an acre of lawn and bush which had been left pretty much to its own devices by the previous owners.
When we first moved in I made a little vegetable patch, planted a few tomatoes, some lettuce and sweet corn. There was a harvest, we were excited, and then it was gone. We would have to build something bigger.
We needed more garden beds
We built ourselves a much bigger veggie bed which took some time as the block is steeply sloping and it had to be terraced. It worked well for a while but we soon found that it still wasn’t enough. It was about this time that I picked up Linda Cockburn’s book.
The book was a revelation to me, we had so much space, and surely we could keep a few chickens and add a few more veggie beds? We cleared a large area of self-seeded trees that spring up in the bush around here and are effectively weeds; this area was to become our chicken run. We also added another large terraced veggie bed along with several raised beds around the house and multiple large pots with herbs.
Franger Farm is born
The permaculture movement was born in Victoria and the more I read about it the more sense it made to try to apply these principals to our backyard. So the garden with the veggie beds became Franger Farm, a suburban micro farm where the chickens eat the weeds that are pulled from the beds that are fertilized with the chook manure and compost that is made from the kitchen scraps that are left from the veggies that we grow in the beds that… Well, you get idea!
Franger Farm continues to grow. This year we have added three more veggie beds and we’re hoping that we can get a goat soon to help us get the large area of untamed bush we still have under control. We’ve added fruit trees as well and the ones we put in a few years back are beginning to fruit well. We continue to add more fruit trees every year.
Hard work pays off
I am asked constantly if it’s a lot of work trying to grow this much food and look after animals with a full time job and three children and the answer is honestly, YES. It’s work that I love and I don’t mind spending my free time outside in the garden although, I’m not really a fan of weeding, but who is?
We’re not a business at the moment and we’re just doing it to feed our family. But we’ve been talking about various business ideas for our little suburban farm, so I wouldn’t rule it out in the future.
If you’re looking for low maintenance, then trying to feed your family from your backyard probably isn’t for you, but if you hate food shopping as much as me and would rather be in your backyard than the supermarket queue, then it’s an option.
But before you decide to dig up your lawn and plant carrots, be warned, it’s addictive!
Phyl Martin, otherwise known as Mrs Franger Farm. A mother of three and part time suburban farmer. She admits, “I love chickens, growing edibles and spending my free time digging up the lawn to make more room for the veg. Supported by the long-suffering Mr Franger Farm who is the muscles behind the whole operation.”
Please connect with them on Facebook and follow their journey.
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