Greg Peterson’s Urban Farm: Farming in the Heart of the City
Guest author Greg Peterson talks about his Urban Farm, featuring a primarily edible landscape, solar panels, rainwater and greywater harvesting and a kitchen made primarily from reclaimed materials.
There is something to eat in my yard every day, 365 days a year. Last Thanksgiving it was a wonderful salad of six different greens, including nasturtium leaves and sorrel (a surprise find, growing in the back “wild” area); ruby red pomegranate seeds; an incredible citrus called limequat that was sliced up skin and all for a tangy/sweet sensation; and a little bit of tarragon and fennel, with a smidge of that pretty little three-leaf clover you see growing in some yards called sourgrass. The flavors were so diverse and striking that I chose not to add any dressing at all. I live in the heart of Phoenix, AZ, at what I now call the Urban Farm, an environmental showcase home. The site features a primarily edible landscape (including over 80 fruit trees), three different kinds of solar panels, rainwater and greywater harvesting, a remodeled 800-square-foot patio and an outdoor shower and kitchen made primarily from reclaimed materials. My intent is to present my home in a place where most people would live so that when visitors arrive they can imagine that they too could implement some of the changes I have made at The Urban Farm into their own “urban farms.” It all started with food and my desire to garden. Over the past 20+ years I have re-landscaped my entire yard to the point that everything that I grow is either edible or supports the plants that are edible. I have planted trees that produce edible fruits and nuts; perennial herbs including basil and oregano that I use a hedge trimmer on periodically; along with the standard annual vegetables — broccoli, snow peas and cucumbers, just to name a few. Because of the name, visitors to the Urban Farm have an expectation that they will see long rows of corn and beans — a full working farm. To the contrary; much of what I grow lives in standard garden beds. If the casual passerby did not know any differently, they would just see a nicely landscaped yard. Farming the city spaces around us presents a whole new paradigm for growing our own food and reigniting our connection to nature. The tools are here, and the knowledge is available. You can kindle your desire by getting your hands dirty, taking a chance and spreading some seeds. The fruits of your labor are much tastier than what you find in the grocery store and come along with the satisfaction that YOU grew them. Many people tell me of their “black” thumbs as they admire what is grown on the Urban Farm. I reflect back to them the years of experimenting that I have done, noting ALL the plants that did not live under my care, and that was how I learned. For the past 10 years, the Urban Farm has regularly been available for tours and classes. The intent of these events is to share with visitors the different green lifestyle choices available to inspire them. Our events include classes on gardening, composting, keeping chickens, permaculture, edible landscape design, greywater and rainwater and the occasional house concert. Greg Peterson is a green living and sustainability innovator who truly lives what he speaks. As a resident of Phoenix for the last 41 years, Greg is well versed in urban sustainability, green living and food production in dry lands. He was first introduced to desert gardening at the age of 12. In 1991, he discovered the concept of permaculture, bringing together many sustainability concepts into one cohesive system. Greg is a writer, teacher and lecturer on many aspects of green living, sustainability and permaculture. His passion is to present the concepts so that everyone can conceptualize and implement some kind of green living concept into their lives. Greg was a contributing writer for Phoenix magazine for two years and for Edible Phoenix for three years. He is a dynamic speaker on green and sustainability topics and regularly draws hundreds of people for his “Living Green, What Does it Mean?” lectures. For more information on these and other events, visit urbanfarm.org to sign up for our event email list. For more information on living a green lifestyle and to find some great green products, visit YourGuideToGreen.com. For more views of Greg Peterson’s Urban Farm, see Greg’s video or reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.