Backyard Farmer Training

Why Join the Backyard Farmer Training?

The Backyard Farmer Training is a hands-on course for people interested in starting a very productive small plot farm in their yard or those interested in starting a backyard farming business. Learn to effectively manage precious resources (time, energy, sun, water, soil, plants, money) while growing lots of food for your community. Special to this site is learning how to plan and manage a 6-member CSA from 600 square feet with bio-intensive growing techniques.

Through this intensive 14-week program, you will gain the invaluable experience of nurturing crops and soil day to day and gain a sense for the physical and mental energy required to run a small farming operation that produces high quality vegetables & herbs. Program takes place at Foxtrot Farmyard in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn between the Cortelyou and Newkirk stops (Q,B line)

Take Home Food + Continued Learning 

  • Vegetable & Herb CSA - 15-20 weeks

    You are a CSA member of the farm and will take home a share of the produce each week. The more we grow, the more we eat. (Value $400)

  • Lifetime Member ->> Online Course

    When you register for this program, you will automatically be enrolled in all future online courses that include this content so you can continue to learn. Sometimes you have to hear things a couple times for it all to sink in, and you will have ongoing support through coaching calls and the private Facebook group. (Value $597)

  • Optional: Shadowing Youth Leadership Program

    Option to shadow & support me during the Summer Youth Leadership program at the Youth Farm. See how these systems apply to a 1-acre farm and get involved with mentoring and inspiring youth farmers. (Day of week TBD, most likely Mondays)

About Stacey Murphy

Stacey is passionate about sharing farming systems to help aspiring growers and farmers create the lifestyle they want. Stacey started BK Farmyards in 2009 in this backyard, Foxtrot Farmyard. Each year, she has managed a 6-person CSA and each season has made the model better and better. Stacey has taught dozens of aspiring growers some of whom have gone on to have their own farms. Stacey's teaching style is half drill sergeant - half nurturing mother. Her background brings a holistic set of skills to the table: engineering / architecture / race car driving / farming / activism / training / instigating.

 Check out some free online videos for Stacey's teaching style

Schedule - Rain or Shine

Training Dates: May 27 - August 26, Wednesdays
Meeting Times: Wednesdays 9am - 1pm

Weekly Schedule: Workshop time (90) minutes + Hands on Activities (150 minutes)
The first 20 minutes of each hour will be a group workshop followed by hands on activities. This rhythm will give us time to integrate that knowledge into our work together. If Mother Nature throws us a torrential downpour, we may spend more time in workshops (under cover) on a given day or rearrange the time blocks to accommodate.

Additional Time Commitment:
• 12 hours of online instruction (presentation-style)
• 15 hours of self-directed site maintenance throughout the season
• Beyond August 26th, you have the option to continue to do self-directed maintenance & training in exchange for CSA share.

NOTE: If the program were a different time & date, could you join us? Please drop me a note with those details just in case there are any changes: [email protected]


Only 6 spots available

Registration Fees: $1100

Please note: Your fee includes tuition, field trips, and all farm equipment. Transportation is not included. There are several items that you need to bring to the program each week to ensure that you are prepared such as gloves, clippers, sunscreen, water bottle, rain gear and snacks. Once registered, you will receive a complete checklist.

To register: Please copy, paste and complete the application below, and include it in an email, along with two references, and a current photo. Send to [email protected] Include in the subject line “Your Name + Backyard Farmer Training Program.” Thank you for your time.

1. Your name, birth date, email, and phone number.
2. How did you hear about this training? Please be as specific as possible.
3. What interests you the most and what are you hoping to get out of this training?
4. What background or related experiences do you have to the topics at hand? 
5. If you were not to do this training, what would you do with your season?
6. Tell us three interesting things about yourself?
7. Are you comfortable working physical days in varied weather conditions?
8. Do you have any health conditions we should know about?
9. Do you have the funds to pay in full?
10. Is there anything else that you would like to add?
11. Please include two references, and a current photo.

Registration – Next Steps
After sending your application, Stacey Murphy will be in touch within two business days to arrange an interview. The application deadline is May 22nd, and final notice will be given by May 24th. If you are accepted, full payment will be due to reserve your position no later than May 25th. Payments can be made with a credit card, personal check, money order, or cash. We recommend that you get your application in ASAP.

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Course Topics

Food Growing Basics


For new and beginning growers who want to learn the basic horticultural skills to grow lots of food, increase soil fertility, and use best water practices. Annual vegetable and herb cultivation is primary focus with a few perennial herbs and fruits included.

SUN >> Understanding MicroClimate

Assess where you are and what's available to you: sun, air, temperature, and resources (soil & water covered separately). Learn basic tools to define your micro-climates on site.

SOIL >> Health Starts Here

Learn daily & seasonal practices for healthy soil and reduced weed pressure. Topics covered: how to build your first beds and a soil remediation case study for lead.

COMPOST >> + Teas & Biochar

You create a compost plan that suites your lifestyle and enriches your soil with billions of micro-organisms. Topics covered: bins, compost tea, biochar how much to apply & when

PLANTS >> Small Plot Growing

Integrate techniques to shrink the recommended minimum spacing between plants and pack in more delicious food. Focus is on vegetables and herbs, companion planting & intercropping.

TIME >> Enjoy It

Learn to seed, transplant & cultivate effectively to yield results. Identify wasted efforts so you can enjoy your time. I share daily schedule for a 1000 square foot space.

WATER >> Fluid Systems

Analyze available water on site, and best methods of storing and distributing water as needed with an emphasis on setting up systems that give your daily irrigation tasks more fluidity.

HARVEST >> Improve Yield

Learn the basic plant types, how they grow, and how they communicate. Topics covered: harvesting and pruning techniques to maximize yield and flavor.


Topics include growing in containers, trays, & sub-irrigated containers, plus requested topics from group. I'll be collecting suggestions throughout the course.


Building Soil Fertility - Essential Soil Theory (audio & slides)

Crop Planning Video - How to plan your harvest

Pest & Disease 2-part Video - Preventative measures & remedies

Advanced Topics


For growers with horticultural experience who would like to hone their farm business skills, create systems for their operations, and manage their time & team. If you apply yourself, you could create a completed business plan by the end.

SOIL >> Fertility Plan

Customize a fertility plan for your farm. Identify efficiencies in your composting system; decide your cover crop and till / no-till strategy; and set up soil fertility evaluation system.

PRODUCTS >> Work Flow

Create your systems for seeding, transplanting, managing the weed seed in your soil as well as tracking all labor inputs into a crop enterprise budget for analyzing profitability.

GOODS >> Getting to Market

Harvest, wash, pack and transport so customers get maximum flavor and freshness. Design your distribution process and analyze it's effectiveness.

MARKETING >> Selling Your Goods

Draft your marketing plan: identify your market; craft you product message; get comfortable selling; and set income targets and benchmarks to keep you on track.

OPERATIONS >> Manage the Business

How will you manage your farm business? Learn to structure time on the farm to focus on big picture questions around resources, team, systems, products & distribution.

TEAM >> Effective Leadership

Learn techniques to train a team to share responsibilities and run operations. Plus direct communication practices to foster trust / respect while getting things done.


What kind of land is right for you? What can you read and understand from a property? What government resources are available to help find land? What makes a good contract?


Create operational budgets and targets for the next 3-5 years as well as a cash flow analysis to successfully navigate the growing season. Discover a tracking system that works for you.

What past students have to say

profile “I came in curious about maybe planting some vegetables in the backyard and left with plans to plug into the community and start a farm! Stacey brings a lot of energy to class and her passion for urban farming is wonderfully contagious. She covered everything from transplanting seedlings to yearly crop planning to structuring your farm as a business/non-profit. ” – Dan

NekenasoaR“I came away from the course better equipped to improve future yields. This course packs in a lot of information and Stacey makes it interesting and enjoyable, mixing theory and practice throughout. She is incredibly knowledgeable and has the unique capability to tailor the class according to students’ interests.  The preparatory videos and handouts are useful resources that I’ll continually reference when in need of practical guidance.” – Neke”

“Stacey is not only an amazingly experienced and knowledgable farmer, but she’s also an excellent teacher. She comes very prepared and organized, is a phenomenal communicator, and inspires others with her passion and energy for farming.” – Yvette

Still wondering if this training is for you?

In this training, I share systems and questions that help you analyze how you can be a better land steward while growing lots of food. These systems and questions honor natural eco-logical systems and are designed to eliminate any wasted time, effort, or money from your days.

My intention is bring you a set of planning and evaluation tools to increase the productivity of your growing space. Can you save money by NOT starting your own seeds, and how do you evaluate that?

I believe my systems and worksheets can be applied to many different types of yields, but you will have to do your homework to adapt them to your own needs. If you plan to start your own farm, there will be some homework involved. No one has ever started a business without doing some research on their own.

hoophouseI am not a certified organic grower, so I cannot help you acquire that certification or better understand those standards.

My growing style is down and dirty, and while I find simple solutions very elegant…these simple solutions are not always visually appealing for everyone. This training is probably not for you if your vision is of a perfectly manicured growing space.I have many years experience growing vegetables and herbs and raising chickens and bees in USDA zones from 6a to 7b. I can answer your technical questions around those yields as well as soil science , plant health, nutrient cycles, season extension, pests & diseases, and water systems.

I have no experience in tropical climates, extremely arid climates, or extremely cold climates.