Urban Farm Magazine

November 6th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Urban Farm Magazine
Published by BowTie Inc. (as part of their Hobby Farms series)
Reviewed: Vol. 2 No. 2 Summer 2010

Bow Tie Press is a publisher specializing in magazines and books having to do with pets, hobbies, and “lifestyles.” So you can turn to them for publications such as Diva Dogs, Eternal Puppy, Dog Heroes of September 11th, Project Charger (as in Dodge Charger, legendary muscle car), Thoroughbred Racing Almanac, and The Leopard Gecko Manual. More to the point for us, they also have a series on “hobby farms,” and books on raising goats, ducks and chickens. Cheese Enthusiast imagines that a hobby farm is either a very small farm or a farm that loses lots of money, or maybe both, kind of like a really cool HO train set. But when we look into Urban Farm magazine we see something that feels a little different. We recall that probably 100 years ago and earlier, a lot of people in small towns—and sometimes, in cities—kept a few chickens around for the eggs, and others with a little more land, a cow for the milk, and of course horses for transportation. And during World War II, there were Victory Gardens all across the nation, and we are sure there are CE readers who grew carrots and radishes and whatnot in their yards, if they weren’t lucky enough to live on an actual farm. If you’ve ever read Arthur Miller’s play Death of a Salesman, you might recall that the main character, Willie Loman, tragically laments the loss of the days before encroaching urbanization, when he could grow carrots in his yard. Urban Farm strikes a blow for the Willie Lomans of the world, and for many others as well. We also see from its ads and articles and classifieds that it is hitting an active, and probably activist, niche.

The articles in the Summer 2010 issue cover topics such as yard-sharing, wherein adjacent backyard spaces can be turned into communal gardens; goat-grazing; how to manage small parcels of land for livestock use; container farming; dry-climate gardening success; and some get-off-the-grid subjects such as photovoltaics and small-scale canning. The columns cover backyard chicken coops, Swiss chard, and yacon (also known as Bolivian sunroot), a perennial tuber with many healthy properties. We were also interested in the ads in the back, for earthworm factory equipment, chicken coops, chickens, solar-powered battery chargers, cheesemaking supplies (www.theGoatStore.com), and picklers. So, although traditional farmers might look askance at the notion of “urban farming,” it actually looks as if this magazine would be useful for anyone trying to do something agricultural on a smaller scale, no matter how much acreage you have. So if you are on a dairy farm and want to do some earthworms, or if you are on a soybean farm and want to do some backyard goats or chickens, this magazine could be a useful resource. The writing is enthusiastic, youthfully vigorous, and seems well-researched, and the color photos are abundant and useful, without being slick.

Urban Farmer has a website at www.urbanfarmonline.com, which also looks like a solid resource, and which posts material from back issues. Each issue is $4.99.

So there you have it. As it happens, Cheese Enthusiast helped a friend build an urban backyard chicken coop this summer, and we’re just now heading off for a celebratory dinner and our first eggs (first payment for the construction work). Hobby? Sure. But reviving skills our great-grandparents took for granted? That too.

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