Suburban Farming Company in the Media
Company turns suburban yards into farms
Published: Monday, May 4, 2009 in The Reporter
By DAN SOKIL
It's the time of year when aspiring gardeners long to get out in the dirt and grow their own fresh fruit or vegetables.
But if you'd like to have your own garden and just can't find the time to get it started, the Suburban Farming Co. may be just the help you need.
"We put in backyard vegetable gardens for people. I'm not an agricultural college graduate or anything like that, I've just had my own gardens for about 30 years, and have been doing this for myself for longer than I care to admit," said owner Ron Ziegler.
Working at a customer’s home in New Britain, Ziegler is still signing up customers for the 2009 growing season, and the idea is simple. As his slogan says, "We do the work, you reap the harvest."
"Actually, when I came up with this idea I was thinking it would be something good for seniors, because I have an aunt
who is older and complains about how the vegetables she's been getting from the supermarket aren't like the ones she grew in her garden," Ziegler said.
"She just physically couldn't do her own garden anymore, so I started thinking maybe there are other seniors who would like to have their own garden but we can plant and maintain it," he said.
That's exactly what you can sign up for, at his Web site www.SuburbanFarmingCompany.com or by calling (215) 362-0338.
Work you can arrange for Suburban to do includes two distinct phases: Phase I involves planning, soil preparation, planting and mulching, while Phase II is the garden's weekly maintenance, harvesting your produce, and winterizing the soil after the season has ended.
"It's really a combination service, but also supposed to be educational. I have customers who want me to get their garden up and going, and then they want to maintain, but want some help to make sure they're doing things correctly, too," Ziegler said.
All of those years of experimenting in a home garden have given him plenty of experience growing in this area.
"I've always been into growing things myself, I always have elaborate flower gardens and vegetables. Usually I'm trying to push the envelope, to see what I can get away with from Mother Nature, like how early I can start and how late I can keep things going, I'm always doing that kind of stuff," said Ziegler.
But customers don't have to worry about any experiments, because he's planned out special "farm packages" that will produce, for example, groups of cut flowers in one farm, or different types of beans in another; tomatoes, cucumbers, greens and carrots in the salad farm; tomatoes, peppers, garlic, onions and cilantro in the salsa farm; or basil, oregano, parsley, sage and chives in the herb farm.
"The question I always get is, 'How much can I put in this size garden?' and I try to help them by asking, 'What exactly do you want to do? Are you looking to can what you grow? Make your own sauces? Or do you just want to make your own fresh salsa with what you grow?' " he said.
"Mother Nature really determines what we do, but the key is just being patient. Everybody wants to plant when we get these days in April that go up to 75 degrees, but then if we get hit with a cold spell they'll lose everything," he said.
Ziegler is also interested in doing educational programs in area schools, and may need to start hiring more SFC gardeners to handle the demand he has already seen for his services.
Just don't get too big: his baseline sizes for backyard gardens are five by five feet, 10 by 10, or 20 by 20 feet.
"If you call up and say, 'I have four acres here and would like to do one or two acres of vegetables,' I'm not equipped to do that, but for a backyard garden those are some sizes I throw out there to give you an idea of how big these things are," said Ziegler.
Prices depend on which phase and how much work you're looking for, but start in the $175 to $200 range for Phase I only and escalate to around $500 for both phases and regular maintenance.
"Basically you can still sign up for a whole growing season, and there are also some late summer plantings you can do, like lettuces for fall, so we'll see how it goes," Ziegler said.
* For more information, visit www.suburbanfarmingcompany.com or call (215) 362-0338.
This article also appeared in The Times Herald