Valley View Urban Farm

The Laughing Place is a garden to most of my neighbors, and the kiddo would say the same.  However, mommy has bigger aspirations, and to me it is an urban farm.  Hey, we even have a check-in on FourSquare that says so!

See, we exist - FourSquare says so!

See, we exist – FourSquare says so!

But what does an actual, devoted-full-time-to-the-cultivation-of-all-things-green urban farm operation actually look like? My friend Tim and I set out to Spring Valley to visit Don Axe at Valley View Urban Farm so that I could get a first hand glimpse at a place devoted to making the most of small spaces…

Valley View Urban Farm

Valley View Urban Farm

Owner/operator Don Axe is a wealth of information and the king of making the most of what you have on hand.  He teaches classes on a variety of subjects, from cheese making to hydroponics, including a rare opportunity to participate in creating a straw bale building. The floor framing was present for our visit to the farm, and building on the bathroom was completed during a weekend class.

Floor frame for a straw bale bathroom.

Floor frame for a straw bale bathroom.

With limited space, Don has learned to build both up and out.  His hydroponic greenhouse is cantilevered above a steep slope – basically a deck hanging over open space that would otherwise be unusable. Raised beds eliminate the need to dig into unstable hillsides as well.

Everything on the farm has had a prior life as something else.  Well, maybe not the animals.

Everything on the farm has had a prior life as something else.

From prior posts, readers know that I am not a patient gal.  I do before I think, and often I spend money for things that could have come cheaper had I waited a bit. Instant gratification has its price. Spending an afternoon with Don at Valley View Farm showed me that perhaps I should make room in my life for slower methods. Nearly everything on Don’s farm – from the raised beds to the goat pens – has been created from items he obtained for free. A champion of Craig’s List, Don collects pieces of other buildings, fencing, even some animals are rescued from owners no longer able to care for them, and repurposes them to create his urban farm. Yet, because of thoughtful planning it is a graceful, comfortable environment that does not look hobbled together.

An old library card catalog now serves as display space for hand thrown pottery and goat's milk soap.

An old library card catalog now serves as display space for hand thrown pottery and goat’s milk soap.

Of course, I came away from the farm with 7 million project ideas – much to the chagrin of my near and dear.  When mommy works on the farm, everyone works on the farm! But where to start? Maybe there really IS room for that pygmy goat pen after all?  Should we start making and selling our own canned goods and soap? Perhaps there is room in the newly fenced front garden for a hydroponic operation? Here we go again…

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