Urban Backyard Farm with a Touch of Local History

On a quiet street in Templeton, California, is a nondescript tract house with a well-maintained front yard and a shady tree. But in the backyard of Mark Anselmi’s home you will enter multiple outdoor living areas and an urban farm. Mark’s backyard has been turned into an area to grow fruits, vegetables, gather eggs from his chicken coop, and relax with friends and family.

peaches in the backyard

Mark’s backyard is the type of yard you must wander through. You cannot see everything from his back door nor appreciate the history he has tucked into each little nook. There is a window from Camp San Luis Obispo (a local historic U.S. military post dating back to 1928) hanging from a trellis. Over the years the older barracks have been torn down for new updated housing for the National Guard, who currently reside at the post.

italian long leaf basil

Mark saved the window from the trash pile, as are much of his finds. The trellis and window are flush with trailing pink roses from a nearby rose bush. Behind the trellis Mark has hidden three raised beds with one bed growing only Italian Leaf Basil. The other two beds are filled with several different varieties of herbs and a large sunflower.

Mark makes a delicious fresh homemade pesto and freezes it for the winter. The beds are well fertilized by a pick-up load of manure he brought home last October and composted in the garden over the winter. To the right you will find a bench Mark built with two birdhouses on either end. The lumber used in this bench is from the old drive-in theater that used to be on Theater Drive in Paso Robles, Ca.

marks birdhouses

Mark remembers going to this drive-in as a young boy and when he saw the piles of wood he knew he had to save some for a future project. Further down the path you will find raised beds and half wine barrels. Mark has filled the raised beds and barrels with chard, tomatoes, squash, pumpkins, basil, peppers, lavender, and flowers for pollinators. In the middle of the raised beds, along the winding path, is the chicken coop.

cinderella pumpkin

As Mark says, “It is more of an aviary”. He built the chicken coop and then surrounded it, sides and top, with a chicken wire fencing. His chicken coop is home to 6 very well-mannered hens which provide Mark and his family with eggs daily. Beside the chicken coop Mark has dedicated a raised planter to grow greens for the chickens year round. Mark pickles and cans the produce he grows and dries the herbs from his garden.

Chicken CoopBesides keeping much of the bounty for future use in his kitchen he also enters many varieties in the Mid-State Fair in Paso Robles. Winning multiple first places in 2015 for his chard, onions, cucumbers, basil and mint, he won Best of Show in 2016 for this wheat. Several more first and second place wins were collected for his vegetable and canning entries. Along the back fence are several almond trees.

Mark’s grandfather used to be an almond grower in Paso Robles and he remembers hand picking almonds and selling bags to neighbors to earn money. He planted the almond trees as a homage to his grandfather. Hanging from almost every tree or above the many raised beds is a birdhouse made by Mark. Never one to waste wood, one of his birdhouses is from a favored Birch tree he lost to pests. Just past the raised beds is a beautiful in-ground pool and lawn. At one corner of the lawn are trees with a hammock and the other corner an outdoor kitchen.

heirloom tomatoMark related he has many happy memories of pool parties with his kids for girl scouts, birthdays, and many hot summers. One final space, tucked back behind another trellis growing a “Cecile Brunner” trailing rose, is a bench surrounded by lavender. Mark says the lavender continues to come up as volunteers which he digs up and moves throughout his landscape. Mark’s backyard is not large and he has used every space for enjoyment either through his growing of vegetables and fruit or relaxing and enjoying friends and family.

Mark related he has many happy memories of pool parties with his kids for girl scouts, birthdays, and many hot summers. One final space, tucked back behind another trellis growing a “Cecile Brunner” trailing rose, is a bench surrounded by lavender.

Mark says the lavender continues to come up as volunteers which he digs up and moves throughout his landscape. Mark’s backyard is not large and he has used every space for enjoyment either through his growing of vegetables and fruit or relaxing and enjoying friends and family.

Mark says the lavender continues to come up as volunteers which he digs up and moves throughout his landscape. Mark’s backyard is not large and he has used every space for enjoyment either through his growing of vegetables and fruit or relaxing and enjoying friends and family.

Tami Reece has been gardening and preserving food for over 30 years. She is a Master Gardener and Master Food Preserver, and enjoys traveling with her husband and spending time with her children and grandchild.

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