“The benefit of having a food garden is to be able to consume quality fresh produce, which, naturally, contributes to overall health because the nutrients are preserved in the foods we grow locally.” Zeca, urban farmer
A family farm in the North of Portugal
There is a sense of completion and utmost care for the land when you enter this carefully designed 1200 m2 of an organic urban farm belonging to the happily retired Zeca and Candida, a Portuguese couple from Braga, Portugal’s third largest city. At first, urban farming was only a hobby, a way to leave behind the hustle and bustle of everyday living in the city but, quickly, it transformed into a dream and a necessity: to ensure they could have their own supply of fresh, organically grown food and, ultimately, promote their health.
Set up inside the urban perimeter, but carefully away from any major highways, Zeca and Candida’s organic urban farm produces all year round fruits and vegetables like lemons, cherries, strawberries or melons, beets, arugula, beans, kale, spinach or pumpkin, just to name a few. The diversity is astonishing and every inch of arable land is carefully used to grow their daily food supply using organic farming methods.
- Get information first – from books or on the internet, any source is good to help you get started. Read as much as you can to understand the basic principles of organic agriculture.
- Ask for advice – many people in Portugal come from a rural background, so they know the business of how to grow food. Try to learn directly from a farmer the basic stuff, like how to plant seeds, by offering to help on a farm or food garden.
- Do a course – Many places offer basic training in agriculture. Search the ones in your area or search for online courses.
- Composting is the way – get your hands into composting any organic residue from your garden or even your kitchen. That way, you will produce your own rich compost to use in your organic farm project, save a few bucks and help reduce waste.
- Get your own all-things-organic supplier – find a local ag store that sells organic seeds and fertilizers.
- weeds – you need to remove them mechanically. Yes, I know, so labor intensive! But, hey, you save money with the gym membership.
- moles – they are a bit difficult to scare away but the couple swears by this ultrasound equipment’s efficacy.
- rats – plant some leeks in your garden and it should keep the rats away.
- snails – well, time to ask the chickens for some help…
- aphids – spray the affected plants with this homemade concoction of water and scraps of soap plus the same amounts of water and alcohol.
- attract bees – pollinizers are essential to ensure the production in any farm. Plant flowers around your urban organic farm and in between the seedbeds.