The fastest growing job sector is the service industry with its hard, uninspiring, long hours, and limited advancement opportunities. Jobs where you are the public face of a company that does not support you with insurance, family leave, or retirement options. Fast food, health care, prison, retail stores, phone banks, data input, video scanning, child care, teaching, and the list goes on. Some of these are honorable jobs, some just placeholders until robots can fill the need. All of them offering minimal wage or less, none of them providing long term commitment or security to you.
Urban farming actually offers an interesting alternative in this service-heavy job market. If you are a self-starting, creative, hands-on sort of person urban farming can provide a modest income in an environment you build yourself, maybe even in your own backyard.
A small yard can build a solid supplemental income while also providing home-grown food for your family. This sort of financial offset can be significant when you consider the average organic vegetable ranges from $3-8 per pound. If you can have chickens you will never need to buy eggs again. At $6 and more per dozen for pasture raised hen eggs this is noteworthy.
A creative, entrepreneurial-minded urban farmer with access to a quarter acre of front and back yard space can gross up to $20K per year and more. The use of regenerative soil techniques and agrarian principles will bring more than a return on the investment of the first years but will lead to rapidly diminishing investment needs in future years. A healthy farm builds itself with proper care.
This is not easy work but it’s not as bad as working for a landscape company, construction crew, or even in a restaurant kitchen. It takes a person who is not afraid of getting dirty, who enjoys the outdoors, and who will put in the time it takes to get a job done. The hours are flexible but the work requires commitment.
The most difficult part of the work of being an urban farmer is finding your market. Where does an urban farmer find people who want to eat healthy local food these days? What about people looking for healthy worm and soil products for their own gardens? The very special gift city farmers have is they live in communities full of people who eat and garden. And we are blessed in Denver and Colorado to have governments and zoning that respect the economic and environmental opportunities offered to neighborhoods with urban farms and gardens. The City of Denver Cottage Food Act allows a person to sell produce and simple baked and canned goods from their very own front porch. Attracting customers is dependent on your own community engaging creativity. Working a farm might be a solitary endeavor but selling to market is definitely not. Growing a product and selling it to your neighbor is at the true heart of economics. This is what creates a healthy community and a strong business – farming in the city.