Constant gardeners: Young Urban Farmers shows us how to cheat at backyard farming
Most urban foodies would love to grow their own organic spinach, but most of us barely have time to stop at Sobeys on our way home from work. Recognizing Torontonians’ collective lack of time (read: laziness), three recent business grads started Young Urban Farmers, a service that turns clients’ yards into produce departments. For $155, YUF plants a vegetable garden of the customer’s choosing, then builds a shelter to keep out the raccoons. For $495, they’ll weed, water and even harvest the bounty. This means that naughty hosts can claim their organic salad greens are from their own garden, without ever lifting a spade.
Co-owner Chris Wong sounds like a Fortune 500 CEO when he talks about marketing strategy, but mention tomatoes and he turns into a proud dad. “Some of them are pushing 10 feet now,” he beams. Wong and partners Nancy Hyunh and Jing Loh chose the direction of their business when they were studying at Queen’s. “We’d all helped our parents garden,” said Wong, “and we knew urbanites were interested in local food.”
That’s an understatement; “fresh and local” has been the mantra of Toronto chefs for years now, and Young Urban Farmers has found a way to cash in on the trend as it evolves into urban agriculture initiatives. The practice is becoming increasingly evident, from beehives on the roof of the Royal York Hotel to chickens in backyard coops. Last winter, the Design Exchange hosted Carrot City, an exhibit showcasing how Hogtown’s ravines can produce crops, and Foodshare was advocating growing corn along the Gardiner Expressway.
Another example: YUF found it tough to sell its service to homeowners when the farmers started knocking on doors in the winter, but word is now spreading quickly, and Wong plans to expand next spring. Don’t be surprised if the neighbours start bragging about their home-grown eggplant. They might not be lying.
4 thoughts on “Constant gardeners: Young Urban Farmers shows us how to cheat at backyard farming”
I’m a customer of theirs and absolutely adore them!! Amazing friendly service, and it’s simply wonderful to pick strawberries, mint, and beets from my toronto backyard without having to do anything. I heart YUF.
These people are amazing. I love being able to serve my family fresh vegetables/herbs that I know are good for them. I highly recommend YUF. They are worth every penny!
It’s an interesting coincidence that Young Urban Farmers started their business this past year. I came to some of the same conclusions they did once I decide to have my own backyard vegetable garden. I think educating people about the food they eat, where it comes from and how it is grown is essential learning. It needs to be an important part of our children’s education as well adult who have been using the excuse that they are too busy to pay attention to food matters need to learn a lot too! Turning that learning into action has just been made easier by having Young Urban Farmers available to do as much work as necessary to get healthy food from your backyard on to your table. Now there are no excuses!
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