The Neighborhood Farm: An Urban Farming Initiative

Kate Canney wasn't going to let living in a suburban environment keep her from gardening. She created The Neighborhood Farm to pursue her passion.

| February 7, 2013

  • Kate Canney The Neighborhood Farm
    People who invite The Neighborhood Farm to grow produce on their private land receive vegetables in return.
    Photo Courtesy of Farm Aid

  • Kate Canney The Neighborhood Farm

Reposted with permission from Farm Aid 

When the average person thinks of a vegetable farm, tomatoes, garlic or cabbage might come to mind; suburbia probably not so much. But that did not deter Needham, Massachusetts local Kate Canney from pursuing her dream of farming.

Faced with the challenge of land access in a suburban environment just outside of Boston, Kate formed the idea to use private yards within the community as her starting ground. The idea has since sprouted into The Neighborhood Farm: nearly four acres of gardens spread among seven different spaces dedicated to growing produce that Kate sells at local farmers markets.

Access to farmland is a challenge that plagues prospective farmers nationwide. The 2007 National Resources Inventory Report found, "Every minute, America has been losing more than an acre of farmland to urban sprawl and development." From 2002 to 2007, 4,080,300 of acres previously used for agriculture were adapted for developed purposes, an area nearly the size of the state of Massachusetts.

That was the reality that Kate faced when she started farming. "I wanted to be a farmer since I was a little kid," Kate said. "I don't really know why, but it just appealed to me." Kate studied plant and soil sciences, focusing on sustainable agriculture, at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst before taking on an apprenticeship at Keith's Farm in Westtown, NY. Following the apprenticeship, Kate changed paths to travel and become a teacher. But in 2008, she decided to find a way to return to the world of farming again.

Not knowing how to find farmland available in Needham, Kate was forced to apply creativity. She formed the concept for The Neighborhood Farm walking her dog in the community, noticing all of the available space in people's backyards that was not being used for anything other than lawns.

Roxanne Christensen
2/18/2013 7:03:26 PM

There are thousands of Kate Canney's around the US and Canada making more money farming backyards and sub-acre plots, than traditional farmers make on many acres, using SPIN-Farming. Meet some at

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