Article and Photos by Karen Carr Keefe
Senior Contributing Writer
“Visit a garden with a rabbit hutch, a chicken coop, and two beehives. Oh, and lots of vegetables.”
This is the description of Linda Rader’s garden, at 1547 Love Road, for Urban Farm Day, a free, self-guided tour of some 17 area farms that is taking place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 26.
Rader, a Grand Island resident for the past six years and a happily retired CPA, has steadily been planting her front yard with the fruits of her labor. Now she’s ready to open her garden to visitors and share her expertise on raising as much of your food as you can, in pursuit of a healthy life and some healthy savings.
This is the third annual Urban Farm Day, and it is organized by the same people who do the Garden Walk in Buffalo, Rader said.
This is Rader’s first year of participating – and she’s the first Grand Islander to do so.
“My concept was just to see how much of my own food I could grow,” she said.
Radar said the purpose of the event is to encourage others to do what she does, even if not on the same scale.
“I’m going to stress to people that everything I do is organic, sustainable, and I’m trying to be good to the earth,” she said. “Grow good food – very nutritious, grown with love – but I want to show that anybody can grow some food. You don’t have to do it as extensively as I am.”
She said to grow food, “all you have to do is make one raised bed and throw some vegetables in it.”
Linda Rader grows fruit trees, berry bushes, vegetables, herbs and flowers and has a rabbit hutch, a chicken coop and two beehives in her yard at 1547 Love Road. Her farm is one of about 17 that is included in Urban Farm Day, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 26.
Rader previously has been a visitor to Urban Farm Days.
“For the last two years, I’ve been going to the farms that are listed there, and looking at them – it’s just fabulous – and trying to learn,” she said. “Every year I get a new idea and bring it back here. So, I decided I should show people what can be done here on Grand Island.”
Rader said she has a pretty small space to work with, but she makes the most of all of it.
“Every inch of my front yard is covered because it’s a better sun and a better place for growing vegetables,” Rader said.
She has some backyard gardens, as well.
Rader said that, in Buffalo, there are some large, several-acre farms.
“But there are also some places like mine, with tiny little yards,” she said.
In the description in the Urban Farm Day flyer, Rader says: “I have expanded my urban farm to cover nearly every available inch with raised beds, fruit trees, berry bushes, herbs, flowers, a rabbit hutch, a chicken coop and two beehives.”
Much of the infrastructure for her garden has been built with scraps from the neighbors’ trash and from garage and estate sales, and she has rain barrel systems to reduce the use of municipal water.
“Animals are integral to the system,” Rader said of her chickens, rabbits and bees. “They provide fertilizer, meat, eggs and honey. And they eat many of the garden scraps. I hope to show visitors what can be done on a small urban lot. This is the future of agriculture if we are to save the planet.”
Rader said she has a constant battle with the wild animals.
“I don’t mind sharing, but sometimes they want more than they’re supposed to,” she said.
Rader said she hopes her participation in Urban Farm Day will prompt others on Grand Island to join in and show their farms to the public.
“There are four gardens right across the river in Tonawanda this year,” she noted.
“The world is in trouble, and if we’re going to survive on this planet, we need to take control of our own food and grow something,” she said. “It could be just a couple of tomatoes and a cucumber. Go for it!”