Growing in the Twin Cities with Backyard Harvest

Building a sustainable (and delicious) urban food system – one yard at a time

Hire a Garden Coach & nurture your inner gardener June 1, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Krista Leraas @ 2:26 pm

Are you working hard to grow lush food gardens in your yard or community garden to feed your family?
Could you use a boost from a pro to bring it to the next level?

Backyard Harvest’s urban farmers provide coaching and assistance with:

* Vegetable and herb garden design
* Garden placement and soil sampling
* Sourcing materials, seeds and plants
* Soil and soil fertility
* Garden labor (installation, basic watering systems, rabbit fencing, maintenance, fall clean-up, etc.)
* Common garden problems including pests, plant disease and poor production

$30/hr (2 hour minimum)

If you live in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Richfield, Edina, Golden Valley, St. Louis Park or Robbinsdale, contact us to schedule a consultation or get more information via e-mail or at


Garden Deadline Approaches! April 22, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Krista Leraas @ 6:55 pm
harvest basket

Farmer Stefan showcases an early spring harvest (photo: Zoë François)

Wowie! Spring certainly is in full bloom already. And we at Backyard Harvest are busy preparing for a season of gardens filled with yummy fresh heirloom tomatoes, peppery salad greens, buttery cabbage, onions, edible flowers, basil, cilantro, oregano…the list goes on. Which brings us to the fact that….

The deadline to sign up for a Full Service Garden for the 2010 season is THURSDAY, APRIL 29! Contact Krista now to set up a free consultation for these beautiful, uplifting & delicious garden packages that include:

~ 16 to 20 weeks of fresh vegetables, herbs and edible flowers (over 30 different crops)
~ A comprehensive, professional garden design
~ Personal urban farmer who will install and maintain the garden, harvest the vegetables and leave them at your door
~ Community events (e.g. garden parties, workshops, canning bee)
~ Site assessment including soil test*^
~ Compost blend*^
~ Compost tea
~ Mulch
~ Plants and seeds (over 30 different crops!)
~ Watering system (timer, hose, sprinkler)^
~ Garden journal with notes and communication with your farmer
~ E-newsletter from Backyard Harvest
~ New in 2010:  Add-on gardens! (Heirloom Potato Bin, Strawberry Companion Bed and Asparagus Companion Bed also available a la carte – see details below)

*Negotiable and to be determined in a consultation
^One-time set-up cost. Returning patrons will have all or part this cost waived.

Costs for our Full Service Gardens range between $11 and $13 per square foot depending on your desires and site requirements. This service is available in South Minneapolis (S of Lake St), Highland Park (St. Paul), Morningside (Edina) & Northeast Minneapolis.


Start Up Grants Available in Selected Neighborhoods April 1, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Krista Leraas @ 2:57 pm

Neighborhood groups this spring are excited about bringing Backyard Harvest gardens to their community.  In order to assist homeowners with start up costs, neighborhoods are offering monetary discounts.  Please forward to individuals who may qualify!


If you live in LONGFELLOW: New Full Service Garden clients in the Longfellow, Cooper, Howe, and Hiawatha neighborhoods are eligible to receive a $300 garden start-up grant from the Longfellow Community Council. Contact Backyard Harvest to get started. There are a limited number of grants that will be awarded on a first come, first served basis so act soon!


Feed your family the freshest foods from your own yard with help from Backyard Harvest! February 10, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Krista Leraas @ 2:23 pm
Sign up now for a 2010 Backyard Harvest garden!
Backyard Harvest garden
…a lush and bountiful garden growing outside your door.
…a basket of fresh organic vegetables on your step each week.
…a personal connection to the local food system.

…your own backyard farmer waiting for you!

Backyard Harvest urban farmer

Backyard Harvest has both the expertise and time to grow you and your family a beautiful, nourishing and abundant garden.  A Backyard Harvest garden allows you and your family to be a part of the food you eat!

We offer a variety of services and options to the Twin Cities including 3 full service garden designs to choose from, 3 specialty food gardens and garden consulting. A Backyard Harvest garden is a unique package that includes the garden design, installation, watering system, personal urban farmer for the growing season, weekly harvest at your door, e-newsletter, garden journal and more!

This will be the second year of Backyard Harvest. New features and options in 2010 include asparagus, strawberries and potatoes.

Backyard Harvest’s mission is to strengthen the Twin Cities local foods infrastructure one yard at a time by turning lawns into nourishing and healthy landscapes. We connect eaters directly to their food, neighbors to one another, and urban farmers to professional opportunities.

For more information go to our official homepage.

Learn more and schedule a free consultation today! E-mail Krista.

Meet Our Interns: Sarah Leone December 21, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Krista Leraas @ 1:10 pm

I’m Sarah Leone and I’ve been an intern for Backyard Harvest since June 09 and if you were a customer this past season you’ve probably met me.  I’m in my final year at the U of M and will be graduating with an anthropology major and a history minor with a special focus on ecological anthropology.  Some of you may be wondering what that means, but basically anthropologists study culture and how people interact with others and ecological anthropology focuses on cultural attitudes toward, and perceptions of, the environment.

Since I have started this internship I’ve done a variety of things including data collection, interviewing customers, taking notes on meetings, and help in the evaluation process of Backyard Harvest.  I enjoy all the people I’ve met through this program and am excited to continue working with the program this coming year.  When I started with the program I didn’t know much about farming or permaculture, and I’m amazed at all that I’ve learned over the past months, both from those running the program and the customers, and I can’t wait to learn more!


Reflecting on the 2009 Season December 3, 2009

Filed under: Farmers,Uncategorized — Krista Leraas @ 4:17 pm
Tags: ,
a Backyard Harvest garden - early October 2009

A Backyard Harvest garden - October 2009

Can you believe that it was just one year ago that a few of us at PRI Cold Climate started to really dig into the idea of piloting a program in urban agriculture and permaculture? My goodness how a year can fly by! Since those October days, we have seen Backyard Harvest take root and blossom.

We opened January of 2009 with a bang when we hosted our first open house to introduce the community to Backyard Harvest. (Thanks to member Karen Graham for dreaming up our name!) We thought getting 40 folks in the door would be a great success. To our pleasant surprise, over 100 packed in to hear about the program, express their excitement (and concerns) and offer their support.

This same excitement over sustainable urban food production brought us over 40 applicants for our farmer positions, brought in thousands in donations and sold out our urban ag training series. Could this be the time for urban permaculture to really take off in the Twin Cities?

After hiring three outstanding urban farmers, our team set out to grow a diverse array of vegetables, herbs and edible flowers for 15 South Minneapolis households. These garden-owners came with a wide variety of garden experiences, expectations and income levels. Some sought to learn gardening skills by following along with their farmer while others were just getting started with gardening and cooking fresh seasonal foods. So what did they think?

According to our end-of-season survey, for garden-ownersthe experience of having a garden in their yards ranked right up there with receiving high quality, fresh produce. Learning about gardening techniques, plant varieties and cooking with fresh produce were important parts of this experience. Garden-owners also report having made related changes in their lives such as connecting more with their neighbors, buying other locally produced products and becoming more adventurous in their cooking and eating. Garden-owners were overwhelmingly in favor of recommending Backyard Harvest to their friends, family and neighbors. In fact, many have told us that they have already done so!

Big thanks goes out to our three wonderful farmers: Seth Schlotterbeck, Stefan Meyer and Grayce Backstrom. Their admirable passion and skill made this positive experience possible. While we will miss Seth as he goes off to work again for Easy Bean Farm, a CSA in west central Minnesota, and we will miss Grayce as she goes on to develop her own Backyard Harvest-inspired business in Colorado, we are happy that Stefan will be sticking around the Twin Cities and look forward to working with him in 2010.

Thanks for your support of our fledgling program! If you would like to be included on the Backyard Harvest e-mail newsletter list or if you have other questions or comments about the program, e-mail Krista Leraas, Program Coordinator.


Another garden zooming along July 3, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — allochthon @ 12:25 pm
Tags: , , ,

I too have been getting my first harvests from my Backyard Harvest garden. Grayce has been doing a wonderful job ! Here are a few pics of how the garden looked a week ago:

Peas! From Dirt Garden