How It Works
Every yard is different, so all the gardens Farmyard installs are customized for each space to accommodate for size, light and client preferences.
“We’ve made gardens for all sorts of spaces; big, small, in ground, above ground, where people are handicapped and they need to roll their wheelchair under the bed,” Kidwell said.
For all spaces, sunlight is one of the biggest considerations because without enough light, plants will not produce fruits and vegetables. In Arizona, where Farmyard’s clients are located, people often assume the summer sun is too intense for many plants, but that is not necessarily the case, Kidwell explained. Farmyard helps people install garden beds in locations that will get enough sun and then select plants that can tolerate that amount of light and heat. The majority of the plants Farmyard installs are grown from seeds by the Kidwells, especially heirloom varieties that are difficult to find organically as seedlings.
Once a garden is set up, Farmyard will come back and check up on it as frequently as a client would like. Their maintenance schedules can include visits once per month, for example, or even once per week. The Kidwells and their employees can take care of fertilizing, pruning and other tasks, or they can just stop by to offer tips.
“Without our clients being successful, we’re not really successful as a business, so it’s really important to me that their gardens do well,” Kidwell said. Some clients will even text her photos of garden problems like pests, and she can offer quick pieces of advice.
The amount of maintenance Farmyard does really depends on the clients’ needs, and Kidwell said this amount varies. Generally, they have two types of clients: people who were successful gardeners in a different climate and want to make sure they’re on the right track and busy professionals who want the health benefits of having an organic garden, but don’t have the time to maintain it themselves.
The Benefits of Growing Food
Gardens matter for many reasons, and a big one is that when food is grown in our communities, people have a better understanding of where it comes from. In her work, Kidwell said she has encountered kids and even adults who don’t have a good understanding of food production. In addition to combating this problem by installing residential gardens, Farmyard has also helped build gardens at a number of schools in the Phoenix area. While the logistics of maintaining a garden and adding it to the school’s curriculum can be challenging, once schools have a working garden, children are more connected to their food.
In addition to serving as places for learning, gardens can also save people money. Some of Farmyard’s clients were surprised to see how quickly they could make back their initial investments, especially when growing plants like herbs, which can be very expensive in the grocery store. Once that up-front cost is out of the picture— for herb gardens, usually after about a year— gardeners see their grocery bills start to drop.
Rebecca Kidwell’s yard is also a testament to how it’s possible to create very little waste while gardening. Instead of purchasing tomato cages, she and her husband built their own wooden and string structures to train the plants, which can be used year after year. If a plant doesn’t grow properly, instead of being thrown away it can be added to the compost pile or fed to the chickens or goats that Kidwell keeps in the backyard.
“Nothing ever goes to waste around here. Every scrap of everything gets used,” Kidwell said.
The Kidwells want to see their clients succeed because they believe that the more people that grow food, the better off the community is.
“People sometimes focus on the cost of the initial investment, but if they think about getting all the produce from their backyard, it’s going to be much more nutritious than even the organics at the grocery store because they’re harvesting it within minutes of eating it. They’re saving on their carbon footprint, not paying any transport, and their produce hasn’t been gassed, waxed, covered in plastic, etc. There are a lot of benefits, and as a society we used to do it all the time.”
To learn more about Farmyard and the services they offer, visit their website.
Want to learn how to start your own garden? Read: Follow These 5 Simple Steps to Start Gardening