Adventures in Suburban Farming

One couple traded their farmstead dream for a suburban jewel after realizing the potential their property already had.


garden
Photo by Stan Slaughter and Linda Chubbuck

Many of us foster the dream of owning a small farm somewhere, the garden bursting with ripe vegetables and well-fed animals providing milk, eggs, and meat. The COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on people’s lifestyles may be cultivating that dream for more and more people. At the end of 2020, Gallup found in a poll that almost half of Americans (48 percent) say they would prefer to live in a small town or rural area, up significantly from 39 percent in 2018. 

But no matter how many people carry this dream, the realities of living in a rural area and taking care of a farm are just not practical for everyone. So what if you choose to stay in an urban or suburban area? Is your dream over? 

backyard
Before their property was bursting with plants, Stan and Linda has to ready their suburban backyard to become a place habitable for a garden.
Photo by Stan Slaughter and Linda Chubbuck

Stan Slaughter and Linda Chubbuck found themselves facing this dilemma in early 2020. After years of living in the suburbs, they finally got serious about their plan to buy a plot in the country, raise a few animals, and plant a huge organic garden. Then, with the pandemic bearing down, they faced a decision: either overextend themselves to buy a mostly perfect property, or stay put on their suburban lot and find a way to flourish on the land they already called home.

people
Many summertime family visits involve spending time in the garden.
Photo by Stan Slaughter and Linda Chubbuck

Farm Dreams

Stan first met Linda in 2004 at a talk he gave in Salina, Kansas, through his environmental education work. Linda, a music educator and singer, felt an instant connection, and they quickly fell into conversation about compost and the circle of life. After a year of long-distance dating, they bought a house in suburban Kansas City — a great place to start their lives together, they thought, but always intended as a pit stop on the way to a farmhouse and several acres. 



man-and-woman.
Both Stan and Linda dreamed of owning a farmhouse and several acres.
Photo by Stan Slaughter and Linda Chubbuck

They settled in and started making improvements. In the meantime, several of their adult children moved to the Kansas City metro area, got married, and started families. Soon, 15 years had passed, and Stan and Linda were still cultivating their corner lot, which was beginning to feel constricting. 

Their neighborhood homeowners association (HOA) prohibits keeping chickens, and they were navigating neighbors with large shade trees, as well as a limited amount of growing space. And squirrels. “You can’t trap them fast enough, can’t bring in coyotes,” Stan says, pointing out that more natural predators help keep the population under control in the country. 






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