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Yard CSAs: Hey, Neighbor—You Gonna Eat That? Yard CSAs: Hey, Neighbor—You Gonna Eat That?

Yard CSAs: Hey, Neighbor—You Gonna Eat That?

by Dave Burdick
November 21, 2012

We all love a good CSA. There's nothing like a box of lovingly, locally grown fruits and veggies to kick off a week (or two) of good eating. Of course, it'd be awfully nice if we all had green thumbs and could grow our own food in our own yards, but a couple of things tend to stop us: No yard, no time, and/or no green thumb. 

If you don't have a yard, you're back to the supermarket or the joys of the CSA. Otherwise, there is an in-between option: If you do have a yard but aren't likely to use it to grow food, you're what farm yard CSAers might call an opportunity.

The rain stopped falling long enough Thursday afternoon for Sharon Leopardi to pull a few weeds from her backyard garden.

It's not actually her backyard. And it's not her only garden.

In this particular backyard on Logan Avenue, the 24-year-old is growing radishes, carrots and spinach. Elsewhere in her collection of backyard gardens around the city, Leopardi grows beets, onions, squash and 40 varieties of tomatoes.

It seems like such a reasonable idea: 

  • There are yards
  • Not everybody has a use for theirs
  • Use those yards to grow food
  • Sell it

Leopardi is in Salt Lake City. Here in Denver, another industrious urban farmer/forager runs a yard CSA:

[O]verhead can be significantly lower in neighborhood CSAs that do not have to lease land and equipment. Fossil-fuel consumption for Farm Yard is pretty low too, but not zero, says Debbie. “I had this friend build me a really special bike trailer, but it’s almost impossible to move this much produce on a bike,” she laments, gesturing to the truckload of squash we’d harvested before the apples. On this day, having been to three gardens in her Ford truck and filled it up twice, I could see there was no way to do this on a bike. Still, this produce is darned local, and the carbon footprint of the CSA is about as small as you can get outside of growing your food in your own garden, which is how Farm Yard started.

Sounds delicious. The concept exists elsewhere, as well. These folks in Arizona are on it. Long Island, too. There are plenty of reasons to be excited about urban farming—and this is an exciting variety. Do you know of folks in your neck of the woods with CSAs like this? Let us know. 

Illustration by Corinna Loo

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