SA couple successful at "suburban farming"

Juan Gonzalez grows vegetables, herbs in back yard


These days, fried food is out and fresh, organic food is in. It is a trend that has seen farmers markets multiply and small farms flourish. Now, a San Antonio couple has taken it to a new level: backyard farming.

"This is lemon balm, its excellent in teas, on salads, fish," said Juan Gonzalez, as he showed off his vast herb garden.

Gonzalez is an expert on herbs and vegetables, many of which consume his back yard. He also now serves as the President of the San Antonio Farmer's Market Association. The idea of maintaining plants originated with his wife and soon became a necessity for the semi-retired Gonzalez.

"We had to find something else for me to supplement our income and this is what we settled on," he said.

With Gonzalez's wife is on disability and unable to work, the Gonzalez's transformed their northwest side residence into a small farm of sorts. From the front, their home looks like a typical suburban San Antonio home, but the backyard is a completely different story.

"One of the benefits of growing in our backyard is that we don't need to buy a farm," said Gonzalez.

Still, the couple has put in hours of work growing unique herbs, some of which you cannot find anywhere else.

"We don't necessarily look at -- is there a market for that? --- we create a market for it," said Gonzalez.

And they make money doing it. Gonzalez began with only a $400 investment, and makes, on average, $100 to $150 a day selling at farmers markets during the week.

"In the summer, this pays for all of our groceries and gas."

Gonzalez grows vegetables too, but not for sale, admitting he would need a bigger space for that. The trend of small-scale farms continues to grow, as the demand for fresh, organic food grows.

For a list of recent stories Justin Horne has done, click here.