28. Your First Year as an Urban Farmer - Interview with Greg Zimmerer of Talking Trees Gardens

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Urban farming and small-scale market gardening have become very trendy topics in recent years. But how viable are these projects really, from a business perspective?

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For this episode of The Good Life Revival Podcast (#28), I invited back my friend Greg Zimmerer (check out my first interview with Greg in episode #16) to tell us about how things went for him in his first year as a market gardener. 

Greg is the farmer behind Talking Trees Gardens, a diverse, intensive 1/8th-acre market garden in the heart of suburban Louisville, Kentucky. He embarked on this adventure in farming earlier this year while finishing his degree in geosciences, delivering pizzas part-time to make ends meet, and oh yeah, let's not forget his five-year-old son!

Greg is one of the most ambitious people I know, and it might sound like he’s spread himself way too thin here and maybe you’re wondering if the whole thing just blew up in his face at some point, but I’m here to tell you that the dude did indeed pull it all off. He’s now done with school, and after running the numbers it turns out that his farming operation did indeed bring in more money than it took to get it up and running -- if you ask me, that’s a resounding success in year one!

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Beyond the hard numbers, we talk about his experiences working with chefs and a new farmer’s market in town, he explains how he uses GIS and Excel to map out and track all of the most useful data on his farm, and we consider some of the ways he might adjust his operations next season to bring in more revenue.

From there we discuss what the picture looks like over on the side of conventional agriculture, and how crucially important it is for all of us to start reimagining the way we provide food for our communities – even if it will never be an especially lucrative endeavor for the vast majority of us out there.

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