While Thurston County is home to beautiful, rural farm lands with picturesque landscapes, it is also the location of sprawling growth. New homes and neighborhoods are sprouting up in what were once empty lots and residents want to bring part of the farm life to these new metropolitan oases. Urban farming is not just a passing trend, it is a reality for many members of our community with more and more people joining in every day.
“I can’t think of any veggie that can’t be grown in a pot on a patio,” describes Thurston County resident gardening enthusiast, Sheila Carew. “Some do better than others, but all can be grown that way due to the small root systems. A really easy space saver for things like lettuce is to build a ladder using guttering as your rungs. Drill small holes in the bottoms for drainage. I like to do a thin layer of crushed gravel to also help with drainage.”
One of the trendier plants to grow right now in small spaces are tomatoes. “Tomatoes are easy peasy. You just need a small trellis in a pot! Peas and green beans can also work with trellis training. I truly believe everyone can grow something, as long as they have at least a small patio that gets some sunlight!”
Containers can vary in size and material, but there is one thing that makes all the difference in your backyard garden. “The key to container gardening, in my opinion, is good quality soil,” explains Carew. “We use Great Western Supply’s garden mix which is a soil, mushroom compost blend. They let you buy it by the bucket up to dump truck loads!”
Chickens are the go-to livestock for an urban farm. However, each city in Thurston County has different rules and regulations about the amount of animals you can have on your property and where their homes can be built.
In Tumwater, you may have up to five female chickens on your lot if it is a quarter acre or smaller. If your lot is larger than a quarter acre, but less than one acre, you may have up to nine female chickens. Roosters are not permitted. You may also house rabbits, miniature goats, bees, ducks and turkeys depending on your lot size.
The City of Olympia only allows five female chickens or ducks on lots less than one acre. Lots of this size are also allowed up to five rabbits. Urban farmers may also have two miniature goats in areas of this size. All coops and hutches must be set back at least five feet from all sides of the property line.
Lacey has some of the strictest regulations found in Thurston County in regards to livestock. Chickens are allowed on urban lots – one per 1,000 square feet up to a maximum of 10 chickens. All geese, roosters and turkeys are prohibited. Homes for these animals must be located 10 feet away from property lines. Miniature goats are allowed if all males are neutered and the lot must be at least 7,500 square feet in size. If you want to keep bees, the hives must be 10 feet from any perimeter of the property line.
Eastside Urban Farm & Garden Center has exactly what you need to begin your farm. This locally owned store specializes in urban farming and not only offers supplies, but knowledgeable service, too! Monthly classes are offered to help gardeners of every skill level. Every Wednesday, the store hosts “Chicken Chat” where poultry enthusiasts from all over the county come together to exchange tips and tricks in raising hens.
Another local store ready to service local farmers is Kiperts Korner Feed. Along with needed supplies to get your farm up and running, they also sell some of the livestock you may need. Chicks come into the store just about every Friday in Spring. They will also work with you in building any fencing or shelters you may need for your growing farm.
With all of this information, you might be ready to get your own urban farm started! Be sure to check out any of our county’s local nurseries for even more assistance in cultivating your new backyard passion.