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__________________________We donate 15% of profits to establishing
food gardens on blighted inner city lots.
Looking to Our Past
Backyard Farmers is a collection of passionate individuals who strongly believe that growing our own food is the single most important thing we can all do to improve our health, family/ community bonds, and the environment.
Our team combines the experience of seasoned horticulturalists and entrepreneurs with the creative energy and enthusiasm of young people striving to help families and each other re-connect to their cultural heritage and the land.
Backyard Farmers is lead by Al Benner - an entrepreneur with an extensive background in developing businesses within the consumer products/horticulture marketplace. Al has been an entrepreneur from an early age. Starting with his own vegetable garden and roadside stand at age twelve, Al has gone on to found and operate several businesses over the past twenty years, including: Benner's Gardens - a national mail order company providing deer fencing systems, Moss Acres - the nation's leading supplier of live moss for shade gardening projects, and Finca Las Brisas - an off-grid, ecologically focused residential real estate project in Costa Rica.
Al has also recently started a small bio-diverse farm www.OldSchoolFarm.com for his family on their 54 acre property in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The farm will be opening to the public in spring 2013, and will feature “Family Farm Getaways” where families can together learn the methods and importance of raising and preparing their own food. A recently constructed wood-fired earthen oven will be one of the focal points, and home baked “farm to table” pizza promises to be a hit with everyone. An authentic American Indian sweat lodge is even planned. Bring your fly rod or bike – excellent opportunities for both exist on the property.
The Backyard Farmers business is located in Philadelphia and performs backyard food garden installations in Bucks, Montgomery, Chester, Delaware and Philadelphia counties, as well as sections of New Jersey and Delaware. The company also ships the majority of its products nationwide for the DIY market.
Be sure to visit both companies on Sunday April 14th at www.PhillyFarmFest.org at the Philadelphia Convention center. Wood fired bread will be for sale and Backyard Farmers Rooftop Gardens and Backyard Beds will be on display.
At one time Al was a landscape designer and he holds a BS degree in ornamental horticulture from Delaware Valley College, as well as an MBA with a specialization in marketing from LaSalle University. Al is married to Deena Benner and the couple enjoy their twin boys, Owen and Coleman - currently 5 years old. In the summertime, the boys can usually be found out in the garden, up in the peach tree, or in the chicken coop!
The Benners don't just talk about backyard farming and producing their own food,
they have been doing it for several years now. Al's dad, Dave, a
retired horticulture professor, continues to be a big advocate for
growing food in your own backyard instead of just maintaining a large
lawn. This idea of making the land productive by providing food was
instilled in Al from a young age - his first business was a roadside
As of spring 2012, the Benners will have in
production close to thirty fruit trees, 20 blueberry bushes, 150
raspberry canes, 24 laying hens, 18 heritage turkeys, one acre of
organic vegetables, six Icelandic sheep, and two beehives at Old School Farm in upstate Pennsylvania, and a smaller backyard "kitchen" vegetable garden
behind their cottage in Maine. The family does have help with this
amount of food production, but the family also spends considerable time
together planting, collecting, harvesting, preserving and cooking.
believes that the time their boys spend in the garden, orchard, or hen
house is about as educational and meaningful for a child as anything they
could do. "I think we've experienced a major loss in this country over the
past two generations with our isolation from the production of food
and the natural world" says Al. "Because Americans are rarely able to enjoy
really fresh produce and eggs that are bursting with flavor due to their
nutrient content, many people have no idea what their taste buds are
missing. The extra fat, salt and sugar that is now added to many foods
has desensitized our taste buds" The picture above depicts Old School Farm in the late 19th century. The old barn was taken in down in 1955 as it was then in a flood plain zone due to a large dam that was built further downstream along the Dyberry river to protect the nearby town of Honesdale from flooding. The farmhouse that was built by the Walter family in 1925 was moved up the hill to its’ present location also in 1955. For more than 75 years the family lived on the property and the Benners are only the 2nd owners. The farm in the old days was a bio-diverse operation with grazing cows, chickens, row crops and a small maple syruping operation. The soil in the river bottom is some of the most fertile in the region, and vegetable crops were incredibly productive during both 2011 and 2012.
John Genovese – John is the Vice President and Co-Founder of Backyard Farmers and has a deep passion for sustainable agriculture which is fueled by his drive to change the average person’s dependence on “industrial” production of fruits, vegetables, and proteins. John has been an entrepreneur ever since he started his first lawn care and snow removal business back in middle school. Since then John has created a broad range of successful businesses in ESL education, lead generation, social media management and interactive marketing. He also led a community sustainable agriculture beach creation project at his Alma Mater by re-developing and installing a beach front on a distressed piece of lakeside land. Prior to becoming a Partner at Backyard Farmers, John worked as a consultant for a global management consultancy specializing in the financial services industry and prior to that he was part of a start up private equity firm specializing in sustainable energy. Before graduating, John was also a member of his Alma Mater's Board of Trustees Development Committee and a founding member of his Class Government Body. John holds his MBA from the Leon Hess Business School at Monmouth University and his BA in Business from The Richard Stockton College of NJ.
Kevin Kindig - Kevin has been installing raised bed systems for Backyard Farmers since 2011. His attention to detail, quality work, and outstanding customer service make him a standout in our organization. Kevin holds a B.S. degree in Landscape Contracting Design/Build, B.S. Turfgrass Science, and minors in Arboriculture and Business from The Pennsylvania State University. He also performs a wide range of other landscaping services year round for homeowners in Southeastern Pennsylvania. If you are looking for a professional installation of your raised beds and live in Chester, Delaware, Bucks, Montgomery, or Philadelphia counties (or northern Delaware), Kevin will be happy to provide you with a fair price for a quality job. Contact Kevin at Backyard Farmers by calling 866 449-1114 or email with your order detail firstname.lastname@example.org
Our Garden Guru - Eliot Coleman
In keeping with Backyard Farmer’s philosophy of offering nothing but the highest quality systems and services, the company sought out the advice and input from world renowned organic vegetable gardening guru, Eliot Coleman. It was the company’s thinking that Eliot’s forty plus years of experience in this field offered a vast wealth of available knowledge, and it was for this reason the Backyard Farmers’ team made the trip to Harborside, Maine in October of 2010 to spend a weekend at Four Season Farm with Eliot.
Many of Eliot’s principals and experiences are being dove tailed into the system designs and gardening methods practiced at Backyard Farmers and Old School Farm. We look forward to continuing our interaction with Eliot and to visiting him again at Four Season Farm on the coast of Maine. Thank you Eliot, you are a true visionary when it comes to intensive gardening methods and season extension techniques - you are also a really great guy and we sincerely appreciate all your help.
Photo: Backyard Farmers visit to Four Season Farm - from
left to right.... Aaron Guman, Julie Elrod, John Genovese, Eliot
Coleman, Al Benner
Our Soils Guru - Roger Hill
From Honesdale, PA, Roger is all about soil. He has farmed for many years both in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and is considered by many to be one of the leading authorities on soils and an expert on how plants respond to varying soil conditions. He is also well versed at taking a soil analysis and then adjusting that soil precisely with organic amendments and minerals to balance that particular soil and produce the healthiest, and thus most disease and pest resistant vegetable plants.
The healthy soils that Roger helps "engineer" are perhaps the most crucial element for Old School Farm's vegetable plot and in turn for the Backyard Farmers system. By customizing just the right mix of macro/micro-nutrients and vibrant living soil biology, you can be sure that the organic soil amendment blend ("Native Goodness") you receive from Backyard Farmers will help your soil produce nutrient-dense vegetables full of life and the flavors missing in today's commercial produce. Learn more about our highly specialized soil amendment
Roger is also working closely with Al Benner on the expansion of Old School Farm. Together, Roger and Al are expanding a large area of intensive method crop plantings in the fertile river bottom on the Benner property. An entire acre of a wide variety of organic heirloom vegetables will be planted in the spring of 2012.
Roger is also a professionally trained artist and paints from his home/studio/farm in Honesdale, PA, not far from Old School Farm where the collaborative farming venture is taking shape. He is represented by the Willow River Gallery also in Honesdale.
Nutrition Consultant - Julie Elrod
Julie authored our incredibly tasteful "From the Vine" recipe e-book (free on our site). Julie’s passion for natural health and healing lead her on a path to become a board certified health coach and nutrition educator. She received her training from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and certification through The Teachers College at Columbia University. Through her counseling, she is able to incorporate her passion for cooking and gardening with her knowledge of nutrition to educate and empower her clients, as they learn how to enrich and nurture their bodies to promote self healing.
A formal dancer by background, her training in ballet, modern, jazz and African dance imbued her with a compassion for dancers, gymnasts, and other high endurance athletes who struggle with body image. Her clients benefit from this knowledge and experience with body movement and body awareness along with the experience and insight she gained while creating individualized meal plans for athletes in training. This type of work includes consulting the U.S. National Rhythmic Gymnastics Team at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, NY. Julie’s main goal is to promote health and wellness by providing integrative counseling services for individuals, organizations, schools, and businesses.
The main goal of Julie’s work
is to promote health and wellness by providing integrative counseling services
for individuals, organizations, schools, and businesses. To further nurture and
guide those around her, she serves as a consultant and writer for the Backyard
Farmers, as well as the Rejuvenation Center in Lititz,
PA. She is the founder and
director of her private practice, Be Wellness Wise, and is a health and
wellness contributor for The Good Life; a Lancaster Newspapers publication. Her
vision for a healthy environment and lifestyle has become the catalyst for
change for all with whom she has had the pleasure to work.