Backyard Bounty is Ontario’s premier urban farming social enterprise, serving nutritious, local, organic vegetables to the citizens of Guelph since 2008. We have connected with countless Guelph businesses and residents through our programs, helping the community get ‘up close and personal’ with the growth of our food.
We have partnered with members of the community to convert more than 35 parcels of land into productive gardens growing vegetables naturally, demonstrating to countless folks that there are greater alternatives to having a lawn. Our aim is to increase awareness about sustainable urban gardening and organic food production. We want to do this while providing nutritious food to the community and improving the biodiversity and reducing pollution in Guelph. When you support Backyard Bounty you are investing in a local, sustainable food system for Guelph and a working model for other cities to adopt.
It is our hope to foster community, utilize urban space in an ecological manner and increase local sustainable food production and education.
The vegetables that we grow vary over the growing season.
- Spring: arugula, lettuce, beet greens, radishes, turnips, kohlrabi, kale, broccoli, green onions, corn salad, spinach, snap peas, edible flowers, herbs.
- Summer: zucchini, cucumber, tomatoes, onions, lettuce, radish, beets, carrots, Swiss chard, basil, eggplant, herbs, cut flowers, snap beans, peppers.
- Fall: cabbage, kale, broccoli, squash, pumpkin, beans, fennel, beets, leeks, onions, arugula, lettuce, radishes, herbs.
A green business
Backyard bounty believes in a balance of environmental, social and economical values. Though financial excess is not our focus, we recognize the importance of economic sustainability in continuing to meet our social and environmental goals. We recognize that there are many facets to sustainability; it is the integration of environmental, social, cultural, and economic resources to create the most enduring entity. We want Backyard Bounty and the urban gardening that we do to endure, so we grow organically, foster community through internships and volunteer opportunities, contribute to a local food culture, and offer incentives to join us over the competition since our prices rival those of fellow growers.
Backyard Bounty is a division of Orland Conservation Inc.
Inspiration for converting lawns to gardens
Robert Orland, the founder of Backyard Bounty, was inspired to create the urban gardening project in response to the under-utilization of lawns and a desire to improve the environment in Guelph. He recognized that lawns are detrimental as they are very resource dependant and lack significant ecological contribution. These marginal spaces are essentially monocultures acting as a desert for biodiversity within an urban environment while requiring consistent mowing which wastes fuel, produces greenhouse gasses, and creates noise pollution.
Historically, having a lawn indicated that the land owner was wealthy enough to not need to grow their own food, as the peasants grew it for them. More and more people wanted to be distinguished and constructed yards to show their status. Isn’t it time that we move away from this old practice and use our lawns for something valuable? We offer several solutions to help you make a better Guelph, through one of our ecological-edible or native plant landscaping options.
Backyard Bounty’s approach is to convert resource dependant lawn space to resource productive green space while providing many benefits to the City of Guelph, the environment, our society, and the economy. In the 2010 growing season, Backyard Bounty used more than 35 plots throughout the City of Guelph, equalling about 3 acres. Since 2010, we have continued the trend of converting lawns to resource productive locations for local food production by creating many more backyard gardens, as well as adopting the use of some larger acreages within the City of Guelph.
We are happy to note that many of our initial land-donors have taken on the responsibilities of their own gardens after several years of seeing how simple it is to maintain a backyard garden (the complexity increases when you try to manage multiple gardens as we do!), as well as seeing how organic food is grown. This form of edible landscaping is a must for all to try!
There are many environmental benefits to growing vegetable gardens in an urban setting. Gardens have been found to be more biodiverse than lawns, providing habitat for insects, birds, and animals while promoting pollinators. They provide residential ‘cooling’ during summer heat waves as vegetables are better at absorbing the sunlight and heat than grass. In addition, gardens do not require the use of mowers or leaf blowers, thus decreasing air and noise pollution in the city. Furthermore, maintaining a garden uses substantially less water than does keeping a lawn green and we encourage homeowners to install rain barrels for watering the gardens to further conserve water.
Backyard Bounty grows about 50 different varieties of vegetables including many heirloom varieties within our various urban gardens. The plants in each garden vary depending on the location of the yard, the amount of sun it receives, whether there is competition with trees, the type of soil, and other variables. By growing a diverse variety of crops, we build a system with natural protection against insects, blight, adverse weather conditions and other problems, ensuring that there will always be some vegetable varieties which thrive and survive. We use all organic practices and – no GMO, no chemicals, we work to improve the soil health and grow the vegetables naturally.
One of the fastest growing trends in North America is the return of the backyard garden. Even faster (and far more sustainable) than large scale organic farming – is small scale, organic farming, or in our case urban organic farming. You cannot find vegetables more local in Guelph than Backyard Bounty produce. All of our vegetables are grown in the City of Guelph and it is all consumed by Guelph’s inhabitants. In this way, Backyard Bounty epitomizes the local food movement. This localized production system means that our customers may easily know how their food is being grown and can see many of the gardens throughout town before enjoying our produce at several different restaurants throughout town.
Local food production reduces the need for packaging, refrigeration, storage, and transportation of food, decreasing energy usage and costs associated with its production. Backyard Bounty’s model is part of a fundamental shift in food production which helps to build a system of food security into the future.
Backyard Bounty’s model provides many economic benefits. By reinvesting in small, local community businesses wherever we can, Backyard Bounty helps to stimulate and support the local economy. Our project helps to develop social capital and create a stronger foundation for the local economy through teaching volunteers and homeowners about urban agriculture. By growing productive gardens on homeowner’s properties, it is possible to increase property value and thus improve the tax base. Finally, by providing nutritious food to the community, Backyard Bounty is building a healthy and more productive community that reduces pressure on the health system.
There has been a growing understanding among the population of the importance of fresh, naturally-grown vegetables. In the United States, the Department of Agriculture estimates that demand for locally grown food will rise from $4 billion in 2002 to a $7 billion market in 2012 (Mogk, 2010). Backyard Bounty aims to provide for this growing demand in the Guelph area.
Backyard Bounty gardens imbue a sense of community, identity, pride, and belonging in the City of Guelph through the great degree of community involvement in our business. Between restaurants, CSA members, homeowners and property owners, volunteers and others, Backyard Bounty supports and is supported by over 200 people in our community. One of the most significant contributions we have made to the community is in starting markets at the Trillium Waldorf School as well as the Guelph Montessori School and having our Community Supported Agriculture pick-up at the Chiropractic Centre. This has presented a wonderful opportunity for children to learn about vegetables which they say taste delicious!
Urban agriculture can benefit youth education, tourism, and community development through school programming, work programs, and other agriculture-related activities. It can make the city attractive to new residents and improve the lives of current residents whether through improved nutrition and health or horticultural therapy. Finally, gardens add vitality and colour to residential neighbourhoods of Guelph, making the City more beautiful.
Please visit our FAQs page or contact us for more information about how Backyard Bounty contributes to a better environment, increases food security, empowers the local economy, and builds a healthy community.
Mogk, John. Urban Agriculture: Good Food, Good Money, Good Idea! OECD Insights, 2010. Available online November 14, 2010 at http://oecdinsights.org/2010/09/13/urban-agriculture-good-food-good-money-good-idea/.