Portrait of an Urban Farmer

By Amanda Boyle

Have you ever wondered what it takes to be an urban farmer? As it turns out, it takes a lot of drive and creativity. For our Chicken Coop and Urban Farm Tour on July 16, we will feature sites all around Seattle that feature entertaining urban livestock like chickens and goats, plus innovative edible gardens that will inspire even the most seasoned farmer.

I had the great pleasure to talk to some urban farmers that we’ll include on the tour this year and they shed light on the struggles and accomplishments of urban farming.

Jake Harris and Emma Klein, Stone Soup Coop

Jake Harris and Emma Klein, Stone Soup Coop

Jake Harris and Emma Klein, Stone Soup Coop

What prompted you to raise chickens?
Having fresh eggs daily. We never have to buy compost again! We love listening to the little clucks in the morning and watching them stretch—we call it Chicken Yoga.

Have you eaten any of your chickens?
Once a year, we cull our flock of 2-3 chickens if they’re misbehaving or have stopped laying. It’s important to us to understand where our meat is raised, and that is one way.

What is the best part about having a flock of chickens?
Every coop that we’ve built has been right on the sidewalk. We are often known as “those folks with chickens.” We love starting conversations and bringing people together in the neighborhood by sharing eggs and information.

Which is your favorite bird and why?
We love Rhode Island Reds. They are not as snuggly as Americanas, but they are very intelligent, great layers and act as companions as we get the coop settled in the mornings.

What is your favorite thing to grow in your garden?

Mushrooms! We are growing many different kinds right now: oysters, shiitake, wine caps, turkey tail and shaggy parasols. Turkey tail mushrooms have been approved by the FDA as a trial treatment for cancer patients.

What’s next for your urban farm?
Getting mason bees, installing an herb spiral and setting up a cistern. Eventually we’re planning to use cistern water to fill our toilets.

Joan Engelmeyer and Steve Irish, City Art Farm

Seattle-Tilth-Newsletter-JuneJuly-2015-PRESS

Joan Engelmeyer, City Art Farm

What prompted you to raise goats and chickens?
Our Laotian neighbors had chickens and they gave us two after we spent almost every day with their animals. Goats came about because I’m a knitter (Joan), and I wanted to have the goat mohair.

What is your favorite thing to grow in your garden?
Green beans! We built a bean cave where the beans hang down on the inside of a metal structure. Kids love eating the beans right off vine.

Why is urban farming on the rise in Seattle?
Seattle people want to do the right thing. Organic food can be expensive; if you have the time to grow your own organics, do it. Seeds are worth more than gold. We save as many different kinds of seeds as we can for future growing seasons.

What’s next for your urban farm?
We have an interest in growing my own timber bamboo since we use it all the time for art and trellises.

Visit urban farms like these on our Chicken Coop & Urban Farm Tour, July 16. Get tickets today!

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