WHAT IS TRANSFARMING?
TransFarming is the process of transforming a backyard into a farmyard. “TransFarmers” see a higher use for their high maintenance yards. They use their lawns as a place to produce abundant crops of healthy organic food using the time-tested methods of our recent ancestors, right smack at home.
By integrating different food growing components as part of an overall food growing system, each works in conjunction with the next resulting in a more sustainable food supply. While this concept is not new, many of the food growing components are.
Some primary components of a TransFarmed yard may include Wicking Beds, Aquaponic Systems, HugelKulturs, Tank Gardens, Keyhole Gardens, as well as conventional Raised Bed Gardens. Other ancillary supporting components may include Vermiculture (worms), chickens, rabbits, composting, and water capture. These all support the primary components.
Each of these primary components is described in more detail below.
The Concepts of Backup and Redundancy
Of key importance in any sustainable food growing effort is backup and redundancy. It is highly desirable to have as many different components available in case of stressful conditions. The more support they can provide for each other the better. For example, if a prolonged heat wave or drought were to occur that wiped out your traditional raised bed gardens, you would have your Aquaponic systems to harvest. Additionally, if there was a disruption in the water supply, Aquaponic water could be used to water the gardens. Should the Aquaponic system be disrupted, the gardens would be the backup.
Redundancy is another important consideration to a sustainable food growing system. This takes into account that there are several sources of food available at any time. The food growing components mentioned above serve as redundant food sources. As mentioned, the more components that are included in a TransFarmed yard, the more stable the food growing system.
A possible backyard scenario that includes these two concepts may include using plant cuttings (waste) from an organic garden to feed a rabbit. The rabbit’s slightly acidic and enriched litter goes to the berry bushes as highly fertilized mulch. What the bunny doesn’t eat goes to the egg laying chickens. They do their business on the hay which produces “highly-fertilized hay” which is used for ground cover in the garden. What neither of them eats is destined for the composter where mulch is made for the fruit trees.
And then there is an Aquaponic system, a great addition to any food growing program. An Aquaponic system can create an unlimited supply of fertilized water for the gardens, produce an abundant year round produce crop, and supply great tasting fish for harvesting. The occasional deceased fish fertilizes the garden also, just like during the pilgrim days. Additionally, the system, if media based, can produce large quantities of delicious worms for the chickens, fish, and gardens. They are beneficial the Aquaponic system also.
What is the end of the waste chain for each component is the beginning of the food chain for the others, and ultimately ours. Nothing is wasted on a Transfarmed yard!
Even a domesticated protection pet is part of the equation. A little dog will instinctively patrol the perimeter and keeps out squirrels, cats, possums, other vermin, especially those pesky chicken loving raccoons. Any dog will do, as long as they are smart enough not to dig up your gardens and attack the chickens.
There is one factor that is paramount to all this…water.
The Concepts of Water Conservation and Retention
Here in Texas we face many obstacles to growing food in a “sustainable” fashion. What does sustainable mean? Well, it has a lot to do with producing food in a manner that is not interrupted by “outside influences”. One of the major outside influences here in Texas is the weather – long seasons of heat, extended periods of cold, rapid changes between these two conditions, and no rain in between.
At the core of all this is water. Without water, nothing prospers. TransFarming is about “re-thinking” traditional gardening methods to address regional environmental challenges, like droughts and water restrictions, while keeping in mind techniques for prosperous food production. These approaches involve growing food in ways that conserve water.
TransFarming techniques utilize two approaches to minimize water use – water conservation and water retention. Water conservation includes housing large amounts of water in a way that uses the minimal amount required to grow food. These may include Wicking beds and Aquaponic systems. Another approach is using the properties of decomposition to conserve water. Decaying organic matter such as logs and branches absorb water and release it, along with nutrients, during dry conditions. This approach may include a HugelKultur, Tank garden, or Keyhole garden.
It may make sense to shade your gardens in the summer to minimize evaporation, or winter to help keep things warm. An inexpensive Hoop House may be used. These structures are easy to construct and are designed to endure high winds. Building a Hoop House is described further on in this publication.
TransFarming Components and Integration
In most conventional backyard food growing settings, there are several standard components. They usually include a garden and ancillary items such as a composter or water capture system.