Farmers For Hire

The distance from farm to table has just gotten much smaller. In fact, MyFarm and the Freelance Farmers, both based in San Francisco, have it down to a few feet. For a weekly or hourly fee, the two groups will establish a backyard (or even back deck) organic garden, while customers provide the sunny space for the heirloom seeds and plants to grow. Farmers will come every week, if desired, to plant, weed, compost and harvest, leaving a box of veggies for families to enjoy.

The Freelance Farmers—Emily Stevenson and Jeremy Oldfield—have a slogan: “Get back to the land. Farm your yard.” Decentralized farms could happen anywhere in the U.S., says Stevenson. Trained at Four Season Farm in Harborside, Maine, which has become a nationally recognized model of small-scale sustainable agriculture, Oldfield and Stevenson started the Freelance Farmers because they wanted to continue farming in an urban setting.

With a much larger customer base, MyFarm’s farmers arrive for work on their bicycles, care for the gardens, and leave a box of veggies for about $25-$35 a week. Larger gardens can provide enough food for other customers who are part of MyFarm’s CSA (community supported agriculture).

Lack of time is one reason customers choose to hire a farmer, but lack of knowledge is another. “One of our greatest goals is to engage people in their gardens,” says Stevenson. “More than just providing local vegetables, we’re providing an education. Eventually the goal would be for customers to take over. With everything that’s happening right now with the economy, there’s a need to invest in more self-sufficiency.”