San Francisco is getting smart and ahead of the urban farming game. The city recently passed a law allowing people to sell the produce they grow in their own yard. Urban farming has been accelerating and under the radar for a while now. Approving this practice makes sense, especially in these difficult economic times. The San Francisco Urban Agricultural Alliance can help people get started with advice on how to farm and even how to find land.
This is in sharp contrast to the issues that I discussed in a prior entry about Novella Carpenter, and the challenges she faced in the city of Oakland that was trying to shut her down.
A great piece to read, “Farming the Concrete Jungle,” goes deep into the movement that is sweeping the economy not only for financial reasons, but health and even environmental. The article points out how it’s better to have a pretty garden then a overgrown, littered and abandoned lot next door, and a little extra cash and good food makes life a whole lot better.
Creating a product to sell (and in this case growing a product) is the first step of any business, but then you have to know how to sell it. Most urban farming is not your average lemonade stand, unless you have the property in a major walkway. You need to think about the whole business. Growing the product is one skill set you need, but knowing what to grow and finding buyers for your product is actually more important. Farming is a business like any other and it is a tremendously entrepreneurial.
For most people, you start out by growing only for your family and friends. Then as you succeed, you can expand your ambitions and hopefully your wallet.
I do think there is an opportunity to band together a set of growers for products then identify the customers and the produce they would like and sign a deal. But then you have to deliver the goods. Customers need consistency, so they know they can count on your product. If you think urban farming is for you, think carefully and do your homework, talk to a lot of people and customers to get the lay of the land before you venture too far.