An Urban Homestead in Los Angeles

One-tenth of an acre in Los Angeles may not sound like enough space for an urban homestead, but vertical garden design and intensive planting make for surprising yields.

| December 2014

  • Urban chicken coop
    Grow vining crops with long runners, such as spaghetti squash and watermelon, vertically to make the best use of a small urban homestead. A cute chicken coop can become the focal point of the garden.
    Illustration by Elayne Sears
  • Theresa's garden plan
    Theresa's urban homestead garden plan makes use of vertical garden design to maximize the growing potential of the small space.
    Illustration by Mary Ellen Carsley
  • Groundbreaking Food Gardens
    In "Groundbreaking Food Gardens," Niki Jabbour brings together 73 edible gardening designs from horticulturists, community gardeners, bloggers and print writers, television and radio hosts and other professional gardeners, with plans ranging from beginner container gardens to intensive food production plots.
    Cover courtesy Storey Publishing

  • Urban chicken coop
  • Theresa's garden plan
  • Groundbreaking Food Gardens

Sustainability meets inventiveness in Groundbreaking Food Gardens (Storey Publishing, 2014) by Niki Jabbour. Rich and varied garden plans from a range of professional gardeners offer ideas for everything from a whimsical children’s discovery garden to incredibly productive urban homestead plots. Some integrate gardening with chickens or bees to take advantage of the work they do for the garden as well as the foods they produce; others are designed to keep hungry wildlife like deer and moose out of the garden. With 73 different plans, there is sure to be something for everyone, whether formal or informal, yearlong or seasonal. The following excerpt is on Theresa Loe’s urban homestead.

You can purchase this book from the Grit store: Groundbreaking Food Gardens.

Theresa Loe takes pride in her homestead, where she produces a bounty of homegrown food for her family of four and gathers fresh eggs from her chickens — all in the middle of busy Los Angeles on a property just one-tenth of an acre in size. How does she do it? She combines good design, vertical gardening, and sustainable practices to create a productive urban homestead.

Notable Features

• Grows a copious amount of veggies and fruits on just one-tenth of an acre!
• Includes chickens, worm composting, and traditional composting
• Edibles are planted in drifts for ornamental appeal

The Urban Homestead

Theresa Loe fits the typical definition of an urban homesteader: a city or town dweller who wants to regain some control over her personal food security, as well as reduce her environmental footprint by growing a portion of her own food and keeping some type of livestock such as chickens. Although her property may be small, Theresa is able to grow a wide selection of edibles. Her family also has a flock of backyard chickens and a worm bin to produce vermicompost, as well as a traditional composting area for recycling kitchen and garden waste. “This garden demonstrates how you can be more sustainable and garden organically even in a tiny urban lot,” she says.

Her plan for an urban homestead is loosely based on Theresa’s own property and measures 45 by 36 feet. “I laid it out as a full-sun garden with raised beds,” she says, “but it could easily be done in all pots and containers if someone had cement in the backyard.”

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