In the coming weeks, El Paso Inc. events manager Erin Pfirman and her husband John will begin turning their front yard into a regenerative urban farm.
What is a regenerative farm? It’s a farming method that focuses on the health of soil through nutrient-building practices. You keep tillage to a minimum, use a greater diversity of plants, and grow cover crops between main crops to enrich and protect the soil.
There’s research to show that it’s a more efficient way to farm, which could be good for farming business and climate change. Regenerative agriculture can lower costs and resource requirements, like water, and puts carbon in the ground. But it’s new and progressive and flies in the face of traditional and established farming methods, which are resistant to change.
To say John has a green thumb is an understatement. He has a gift for turning even the most barren El Paso yard into a productive garden, helping Erin flaunt a never-ending supply of homegrown food around the office.
A few years ago, the couple bought a home on Bird Avenue in El Paso’s Upper Valley where John could really hone his skills. He began studying regenerative agriculture, putting its methods to task with great success.
Now the couple are hoping to develop this hobby into a small business and become “agripreneurs.” Using regenerative techniques on their residential property, Bird Ave Farm will begin popping up at farmer’s markets to sample and sell produce.
Can you produce enough from a modest-sized residential yard, say 3,000 or 4,000 square feet, to really earn any income?
The Pfirmans say you can. Regenerative techniques have low overhead with high-yield, quick-growing crops. You don’t have to hedge your bets on and wait for a harvest because you’re constantly turning your rows over and diversifying the plants with a lot of edible produce.
The Pfirmans hope they can spread the good word about regenerative agriculture and make it commonplace in El Paso. They have a long-term vision of cultivating interest, dare I say even excitement, around El Paso for fresh fruits and vegetables and understanding where your food comes from.
They want you to know that even in the smallest corner of any home – inside or out – you can build a garden that puts some food on your table. They want to help you learn how. The ultimate dream is that one day this mindset could replace mass production with production by the masses and give our food deserts easy, cheap access to good food.
So what’s next? Eventually, Erin and John hope to scale the operation to a commercial level with an online farm stand where you can order directly from them. That will require a bit of capital. Can anyone say Kickstarter?
To follow their journey, visit birdavefarm.com.