This week on the podcast we have our first Aussie guest, Marty Ware. In the interview he brings up the importance of and strategies for gardening and micro-farming, as well as the state of the Australian fires recovery. For this week’s post, we wanted to dive deeper into micro-farming and how that fits into a sustainable or permaculture-aligned lifestyle.
A micro-farm is any agricultural infrastructure that is on 5 acres or less. So yes, your 1 acre food forest would technically be considered a micro-farm. But these micro-farms come in many shapes and sizes. Micro-farms typically focus on fewer kinds of crops to produce those select few in bulk and then sell, things like garlic, tomatoes, herbs, micro greens, or lettuce.
For many people venturing into micro-farming, they do so for economic reasons in order to sell the produce for a profit to local restaurants, specialty markets or CSA's, though this isn’t a requirement. You could totally micro-farm to feed your family, and not be super niche in your harvest (here’s looking at you, plant guilds!)
Though I have to tell you. I ran across some REALLY profitable setups. Some people posted their YouTube videos about making a couple thousands of dollars a month just from their microgreens setup in their basement.
Here’s Marty’s video
You can take your micro-farm indoors, or build it up outside. Let’s compare the two.
Indoor micro-farming is great for many situations. This is especially great for those without a ton of land, and/or who are living in locations with really long, cold winters. Here are some traditional and not-so-traditional places to plant indoors, just make sure to add grow lights where necessary!
When looking at micro-farming outside, it’s really all about density. You are able to get more food in a smaller amount of space if you plant densely, in the different growing layers. Like in the following image that outlines the layers.
By planting closely together with the different layers, you are able to plant much more food in much less space compared to the traditional row planting approach.
As with all of the permaculture principles, Integration Rather than Segregation is a great principle to apply to the micro-farm. Integration is key when it comes to deciding on what plants to involve. Definitely build your plant guilds where it’s possible, and identify external factors you can integrate.
Can you integrate an existing downspout to irrigate that section of the farm with rainwater?
Can you integrate the old wheelbarrow and use it as a planter?
Can you take advantage of the local wildlife in the ecosystems you are building?
Depending on where you live, incorporating animals or livestock into your micro-farm may be a great option. First off, it’s important to be aware of any regulations in your city or county. If it’s a suburban area, oftentimes chickens are fine as long as there is no rooster, and there are no more than 6. However if you think outside of the box, there is livestock that isn’t necessarily against regulation.
Well there you have it. No matter your scale, there are plenty of options to get your micro-farm on! Definitely go over to Marty’s YouTube channel and learn more about him and the things he teaches.
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