When people visit my farm these days and see all the trees and growing beds and animal friends and all the many things going on, they immediately think that I must have been doing this for a very long time.

However, here’s the truth.

Today is December 31, 2020. Believe it or not, on January 1, 2020, my backyard farm did not exist. I didn’t even know I was going to start it!!!

I did know that I wanted to do more with my yard, but there were a few big obstacles:

This is how it the non-paved area looked in January 2020

Overgrown trees, a bit of wild herbage and a trampoline – the makings of a farm?

At some point in January, I decided that even though I didn’t have the money, I NEEDED to do something with this space and therefore, I hired two guys with a chainsaw. Over a period of weeks, they took down the bougainvillea and lemon cypress trees, and also drastically trimmed back the bay, honeysuckle and yuka trees .

After they were finished and the trampoline was moved to a new location on the paved area, I had a blank canvas.

And a lot more sun.

And ZERO privacy in my backyard!!!!

Photo from March 2020, once we started putting in raised beds and paths

At first, I panicked that I’d made a costly mistake. Especially when my husband’s chavrusa, who lived in that building behind, used to wave at him out his window when my husband went to get something off the laundry line!

However, by March Corona was upon us and that gave my family a lot more time to work on the garden. My mind started to buzz with possibilities. Some nights I couldn’t fall asleep from excitement. That’s when the idea for Bloomah’s City Farm took root. (so to speak)

In the spring, we built raised vegetable beds out of old bookshelves, shaped paths out of woodchips we got from free from the JNF, and marked borders with construction rubble.

We put in some small plants and tiny trees and – most importantly – a watering system. Then we let Hashem do His thing.

This is how the same space looked in August 2020:

Photo credit: Elchanan Kotler/Mishpacha Magazine

The above photo was taken by the Mishpacha Magazine photographer for their cover story about Bloomah’s City Farm. Since it was August, the sunflowers and summer vegetables are at their wildest!

Quite a transformation!

The summer ended and the Autumn passed and our garden continued to thrive.

Check out how the same space looks now in December 2020:

Yes, those fruit trees have grown A LOT since April. There are actually five fruit trees in this photo. The biggest in the Panama Berry at the back left. That one barely touched my hip when we planted it before Pesach. Now it’s 5 meters tall!

Thanks to those fast-growing trees, our privacy is back.

The beds now contain winter vegetables, which are more tame than the summer vegies. The border beds are filled with thriving perennial herbs and native plants that don’t require irrigation.

Looking back at 2020

I am so grateful that Hashem gave me in inspiration and funds to chop down those trees back in January. I never dreamed that within one year we’d have a thriving city farm, and I’d be blogging about it and running workshops.

My hope is that when you read this blog – and especially this post – you will realize that a gorgeous thriving productive garden is not so unreachable.

As you go into January 2021, even if your yard is currently a small-but-overgrown wasteland, imagine what it could look like on December 31, 2021!

2 Responses

  1. Naomi, kol hakavod to you! Love what you do. Can you tell me who to call to get free mulch for gardens and chicken coops?
    Someone told me a spot in the forest that had piles of pine shavings, but we soon realized one needs a 4-wheel drive to arrive there, and ended up with lots of scratches on the car. Any ideas (real phone numbers)?

    Thanks so much. Keep up the beautiful work.

    1. Hi Fayge,
      I love using woodchips on my garden. They make an attractive groundcover while enriching the soil. If you dig under a woodchips after a year, the soil is so rich and full of earthworms!
      The best ones come from the JNF forrests, because they are almost completely clean of plastic waste (unlike the stuff you can get from an urban council). However, I have used both and all woodchips are good woodchips!
      However, unforetunately I have not found a really reliable source of quality woodchips. (or in Hebrew “resek etz”)
      I am sharing two sources that farmer friends have told me they use, with approximate maps, but I cannot guarantee that you’ll find a good supply there at the moment:
      1. the entrance to Givat Shaul, at the edge of Jerusalem. https://goo.gl/maps/yQzc4LwsVuTduQuA8
      2. Next to the waste processing facililty by Kibbutz Naan https://goo.gl/maps/N3iKG7DH3AQSSLTE9
      Please let me know if you find a good supply there or elsewhere. We’re always looking for more woodchips!

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