Our Suburban Farm

A hardworking couple demonstrates the gardening magic that emerges from commitment, purpose, and a little sweat equity.

If you’re young and you love the idea of gardening or farming, but you feel you lack the time, drive, or competence, this article is for you! We’re the Kapples — an eccentric, sustainability-loving couple in our 20s, living in Oregon. Kelly grew up on 6 acres in the country, riding horses, traversing mountains on foot, and bottle-feeding bummer lambs from a nearby farm. Nick grew up on a working organic farm, where he learned how to milk cows by hand, raise a plethora of fruits and vegetables, and can and preserve food.

Kelly and Nick aim to prove that food self-sufficiency is possible, even on a small suburban lot. Photo courtesy of the Kapple Family.

We spent the first several years of our marriage saving toward a down payment on a home. With our hearts set on acreage and creating our own farm for our future family to enjoy, we were rather disheartened to find that, with Oregon’s high home prices, we couldn’t afford anything more than a suburban dwelling unless we wanted a majorly run-down fixer-upper. But since we agreed that in-town living didn’t have to be forever, we made an offer on a home with 1/4 of an acre on a corner lot and closed the deal.

The interior of the home was nicely updated, but the yard was bare. The previous owners had spent a large chunk of their water bill watering grass. A couple of shrubs were all that offered any sort of spunk to the property. The lot had a gravel side yard that the previous owners had parked a trailer on. We knew instantly that the gravel wouldn’t be staying long. We needed as much of that 1/4 acre as possible for planting!

Getting used to city life was an adjustment for us. We’d never lived in a place where people walked by on the sidewalk, so close to our home. We no longer had the privacy we’d had when we’d rented in the country. Little did our new neighbors know that “the Clampetts” had moved to town! We quickly set to work turning our useless lawn into an urban homestead. First, we built a chicken coop and moved our hens in right away. Our hens have proven to be indispensable. They’re an essential part of the circle of life on our urban homestead. We feed them table scraps; they produce high-quality fertilizer, till the ground, eat pests, and give us eggs. We then sell a dozen eggs to a neighbor and keep a dozen for ourselves. The ladies pay for themselves with this method. They’ve also been our ticket to covering up the gravel on the side lot. We move their chicken tractor back and forth across the graveled area every couple of months, so we now have plant-friendly soil where there used to be lifeless rock! We’ve found that our nightshades, such as tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants, thrive in the higher-acidity area.

Our Mission of Inspiration

The Kapples have transformed their suburban patch of grass into a bountiful garden that provides produce for their family, friends, and community. Photo courtesy of the Kapple Family.

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