Yardfarmers follows 6 young Americans as they move back home to farm their parents' yards

CC BY 2.0 Jennifer C

So you think you can farm (your parents' backyard)? An upcoming reality TV show plans to shine a light on yardfarming, with a twist.

Reality TV is so ... predictably drama-filled and scripted. There, I said it. I don't want to take anyone's guilty pleasure away from them, so keep on keepin' on, but consider tuning in to what might be the most interesting urban farming reality show ever (OK, so maybe it's the only one, but still ...) next spring.

Yardfarmers, which was created by Erik Assadourian, a senior fellow at the Worldwatch Institute and a sustainability researcher and writer, aims to follow six young Americans as they move back in with their parents to grow food in their parents’ yards and/or other neighborhood greenspaces. It's an intriguing proposition, and one which may help to bring urban farming and backyard farming out from under the Portlandia hipster umbrella and put it back in the forefront of conversations about sustainability and food systems.

While the casting for the first season of Yardfarmers is now closed, applications for the 2017 season are still being accepted, with the short list of requirements consisting of affirmative answers to the following four questions:

  • Are you a young American between the ages of 21 and 30ish?
  • Do you live with your parents or would you consider moving back in with them?
  • Do you want to try to convert your parents’ lawn (and neighborhood greenspaces) into a workable yardfarm–one that can sustain you and your family either nutritionally or financially or both?
  • Do you want some guy with a camera following you around while you try to do this for nine months?!?

Here's the trailer for Yardfarmers:

"America’s future depends on cultivating the next generation to be yardfarmers."

The yardfarming movement could have a wide range of benefits to individuals, families, and communities, as well as the nation as a whole, including a return to multigenerational living and the rethinking of 'living with the 'rents' as something that is positive, not a sign of a slacker or failure. Of course, the biggest obvious benefit would come through more local food production and the transition away from growing the (mostly) useless crop of grass in yards and toward a more sustainable model of homegrown food and DIY living.

"Imagine if suburban, exurban and even small urban plots around the country were converted to yardfarms. This land could create new livelihoods, food security, community resilience, and more biodiverse lands that would absorb water runoff, attract local wildlife, and sequester carbon (in the form of richer soils). Moreover it would reduce demand for lawn chemicals, and over time reduce demand for industrial food and farming—in turn making it possible for those lands to be rewilded." - Yardfarmers

The Yardfarmers project is being developed in partnership with the Worldwatch Institute and is being produced by Big Mouth Productions.

Would you, could you, live with your parents in order to become a farmer, even if your farm is just a single yard? Find out more, or apply for the 2017 growing season, at Yardfarmers.

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