We've seen claims that you can make $50,000 a year from an urban, backyard farm. Yet while urban farming may be taking off as a profession, for many, it remains a part-time gig - sandwiched between whatever else they have to do to pay the bills.
Cost-of-living impacts commercial viability
Of course, how much you need to "make a living" will depend on where you live. It's no accident that urban farming is taking off in distressed cities like Detroit, but what about high-cost-of-living communities like LA?
Scott Henley, who lives in Pasadena, Los Angeles, decided to see if he and his family could grow enough in his suburban backyard to avoid the need for one parent to go to work. Using aquaponics, Henley is growing tilapia, water cress, salad crops and vegetables, and he's selling them to local restaurants and at the farmers' market.
Urban farmers need mutual support
Whether or not you can make enough to avoid a job, that's still an open question. Henley says he is covering his costs and making a modest amount of surplus, but he's hopeful that he can improve on these economics as the tilapia operation matures and as more urban farmers begin to collaborate on ways to cut costs and support each others' efforts. Either way, he laughs, he's really enjoying himself as he struggles to get by.