There’s been a growing interest in backyard farms over the past several years. If you’ve been wanting to try backyard farming and live in the Vernon area, you’re in luck. Vernon’s rich farming and ranching history makes it the perfect place to start a backyard farm.
What Is a Backyard Farm?
Backyard farming, also called homesteading, is the practice of using whatever space you have to grow and produce your own food. Some homesteaders only do it to provide food for themself and their families, but others choose to sell items at a local farmer’s market or flea market.
6 Reasons To Start a Backyard Farm
1. Reduce Food Costs
If you go all in and buy 40 acres, that’s one thing. The costs associated with farming (soil, seeds, fertilizer, hay, feed, equipment and much more) can really add up. But for the average backyard farmer, growing their own food is a big money saver. The amount of money you can save by producing your own food depends. If you’re currently paying for organic produce, you’ll definitely save by growing your own. However, if you’re living off cheap staples like ramen and fast food, then your food costs might actually go up a bit, and most homesteaders will tell you it’s worth it.
2. Save Time and Energy
Growing your own food might sound daunting, but after the initial setup, it’s often easier than going to the grocery store. Imagine if you didn’t have to go grocery shopping every week or two – or that you were making dinner for friends and realized that your recipe calls for fresh basil. If you grow your own, you don’t have to get in the car, drive down to the store, find a parking spot, grab the basil, wait in line and then drive home. Instead, you can simply go outside, pick some basil, rinse it and add it to your meal.
3. Eat Healthier and More Sustainably
Producing your own food puts you in charge. You get to decide whether or not to use fertilizers or pesticides. You know that your eggs don’t come from commercial chicken farms, which can sometimes be dirty and overcrowded. You can eat organic without paying for organic. It’s an easy way to eat a healthier diet.
Backyard farming also allows you to do better by our planet. Cutting back on the groceries you buy from stores reduces your carbon footprint. For one thing, when you harvest vegetables straight from your garden, that means no plastic packaging is needed. But the real impact comes from the harvest going straight from your backyard to your kitchen. Most food that you buy travels an average of 1,500 miles to get from its original location to your local grocery store. By cutting that out, you’re drastically reducing your personal impact on our environment.
4. Homegrown Produce Just Tastes Better
Another bonus is that homegrown produce just tastes better! Why? Well, for one, home gardeners tend to pick produce when it’s perfectly ripe. Commercial produce is usually picked before it ripens. With home gardening, you can also often wait to pick your fruit or vegetable until the moment you need it, meaning it will be as fresh as possible.
5. Raising Animals Comes With Lots of Benefits
In 2018, the Vernon Township Council approved the “chicken ordinance,” allowing citizens to raise fowl on residential lots. Chickens are relatively easy and inexpensive to raise, so are a common choice for many first-timers. You can get by with feeding them food scraps (but if you don’t have many scraps, consider supplementing their meals with organic feed to ensure they’re getting the nutrients they need to produce high-quality eggs).
Raising chickens also comes with several benefits. Chickens can assist you with your gardening endeavors – they eat bugs so are an all-natural insecticide, helping you to protect your plants. Their manure is also one of the best natural fertilizers – just make sure you use chicken manure correctly so you don’t harm your plants.
The best benefit of raising chickens is definitely the eggs they produce. There’s nothing like having your own eggs, right there in your backyard when you want them. Not only do home-produced eggs usually taste better, they’re most nutritious. A 2010 Cambridge University study found that when chickens are given space to roam and peck for food, the eggs they produce contain more than twice as much vitamin E and long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, compared to commercial eggs.
Chickens aren’t the only animals you can raise on a small piece of land. Depending on how much space you have and the resources at your disposal, you can raise pigs, goats, turkeys, ducks and more.
6. Earn Some Extra Money
Once you get the hang of homesteading, you might be producing some extra food that your family won’t eat. No problem – look into the state and local requirements for selling your own products, and use that surplus to earn some extra income!
How To Start a Backyard Farm: Step-By-Step
1. Do Your Research
The first (and most important) step in backyard farming is research. You’ll need to have a very good idea of what you’ll be doing before you begin. Plant requirements vary, and those requirements vary by region. While summer is the peak time for gardens in many areas of the U.S., gardening in Texas is a different story. With so many hot days, you’ll probably have better luck with your spring harvests.
Before you start your garden, make sure you know:
- The best growing times in your region for the plants you want to grow
- The water, sunlight and other requirements for the plants you want to grow
- How much space (width and depth) each plant needs
- What companion plants are best to add to your garden – certain plants can be put next to fruits and vegetables for a positive impact. They might attract beneficial insects, provide certain nutrients, etc.
- The best types of soils and fertilizers to meet your needs
- What add-ons you might need to incorporate into your garden (for example, a sun shade will help to protect your plants on those 100 degree plus days)
Once you have a basic understanding of how to successfully grow plants, you can plan out your garden. It’s helpful to know which plants will grow well together and which will just give you grief (you don’t want to try to grow a full sun plant right next to one that prefers the shade).
2. Start Small and Plan for Failure
If you have no experience in gardening or farming, start with just a raised garden bed or maybe some container gardens. You don’t want to invest a lot of time and money until you’re sure you know what you’re doing. First-time homesteading is best approached with caution. Plan carefully, start slow and add more as you gain experience.
And plan for failure. This isn’t meant to be discouraging. You have to take into account the many reasons you might fail to do everything you want to do at first. Insects, disease, freezing weather or flooding can kill crops. Risk management is always a part of farming.
3. Produce a Variety of Products
If you have the space and other resources, many long-time farmers and gardeners suggest using permaculture principles as a guideline for backyard farming. Permaculture is the idea of creating an environment that reflects the biodiversity of the outside world. The theory is that the more diversity you have of species (in both plants and animals) on your mini-farm, the more success you will have in your homesteading efforts.
Gardening and Farming in Vernon, Texas: Advice and Resources
Backyard Chicken of Vernon
In 2021, when the coronavirus pandemic was driving up the cost of groceries, Vernon resident Stephen Casner started a garden to reduce his food costs. What started as just a garden grew into a full-fledged backyard farm that has “chickens, turkeys, rabbits, pigs and a goat named Miss Daisy” today.
As the costs to feed his chickens went up, Mr. Casner asked the community to donate their food scraps to the animals in return for a dozen eggs fresh from his chickens. Now, he runs a Facebook group – The Backyard Chicken of Vernon – where neighbors can get advice, ask questions and buy, trade, sell or barter chickens and other animals.
Queens of the Coop
Ready to get started with raising chickens? You can buy hatching eggs and chicks from this local Burkburnett farm.
Vernon, Texas – A Great Place to Farm, a Great Place To Live
Vernon is a great place to start a farm and raise a family. It’s also a great place to spend your retirement. If you want to pass your Golden Years in a beautiful, welcoming community, Vernon might be just what you’ve been looking for.
Eagle Flats Village is an assisted living community in the small historic town of Vernon, Texas. We offer spacious private apartments, chef-inspired meals, housekeeping and laundry services, an on-site beauty and barber shop, plenty of social opportunities, local transportation, daily assistance as needed, and much more.
And if you love garden-fresh produce, you don’t have to give it up. We have our own community garden, where we get fresh vegetables and herbs for our chef-inspired meals.
Ready to see our thriving community for yourself? Plan your visit today.