There’s something inspiring about the sense of community you get from mingling with Russ, owner of Backyard Harvest Farm. Like many of the farmers we’ve met with, Russ decided to leave his previous job in pursuit of a more rooted and connected lifestyle. With his wife and four kids, Russ farms in several different backyards located in the #HAMONT Strathcona neighbourhood.
Attached to their beautiful old brick house is a caterpillar wind-tunnel. This allows for Russ to get started with his seedlings from home. Russ grows 30 different crops throughout the seasons including arugula, mustard greens, beet and beet greens, green onion, hashishes, zucchini, raspberries, blackberries, garlic, kale, eggplant, rutabaga, leeks, Jerusalem artichokes, rapini, spinach and tomatoes. Each year, Russ rotates the crops while trying new techniques to increase the quality of his (already amazing) crops.
Each of the Backyard Harvest yards that we visited holds a different story of the community coming together to make a difference. The plot sizes used range from 1100-2000 square feet. Russ is quite knowledgeable about each plot of land and is optimistic about overcoming the challenges he faces as an urban farmer (such as limited space). So far, he has been able to barter with his neighbours in a way that is symbiotic for all those in the community. Russ feels this style of urban farming gives him a way to escape from the city without going anywhere.
One of the benefits of urban farming is that the produce is not harvested until right before delivery. This allows for the most nutrient dense produce possible. On top of that, Russ makes a point to use grass-fed manure and focuses on sustainable farming methods. Currently, Backyard Harvest has 3 part-time employees alongside the family, as well as some volunteers.
You can get Backyard Harvest produce from the NEW Dundurn market or by becoming one of their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) members for produce shares. If you’d like to be a volunteer at Backyard Harvest Farms email Russ at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information, check out www.backyardharvest.ca and follow them on Instagram @backyardharvestfarm