Ellensburg is a rural town surrounded by many miles of farmland. When people think about what those farms surely look like, they would think of acres of hay, vegetables, vineyards, orchards and pastures. However, farms can also be found deep in Ellensburg’s residential neighborhoods.

Emily Soleto Temulty began turning her yard into a farm three years ago, selling fast-growing high-value crops like basil, arugula, microgreens and flowers at the Ellensburg Farmers Market as Fortitude Foods. Now she harvests hundreds of pounds of produce every month, selling not only at the farmers market, but also local restaurants like the Dakota Café and Daily Bread.

“It was sort of an ‘aha’ moment, I just realized that my heart really wanted to be in the country and to be farming,” Temutly said.

Temulty’s focus on quick-growing crops comes from an emphasis in farming efficiently. Because she only has a quarter-acre of land to work with, she has to maximize her crop value. She says that all of her crops grow in less than 40 days so she can rotate the beds quickly and get the most produce possible for the growing season. She has an automated irrigation system and carefully maintains soil chemistry using her knowledge of botany she got as CWU student, along with her own research.

Temulty soon plans to buy a bigger plot of land where she’ll be able to use the efficiency lessons she learned from her urban farm to maximize production when she has more space.

“By the time I get there, I’ll have my systems, my post-harvest infrastructure taken care of. And really just the practice to do it right just scaled up from here,” Temulty said.

Once that happens, she’ll be able to hire employees in salaried positions. So far, she has been working with the assistance of her brother Mike Soleto, her mother, and her daughter who helps her sell produce at the farmers market. Temulty says that she’s grateful for the fact that she started with a small, urban farm before making a large land investment.

“There’s a lot of elements (to farming) where people jump in and then it fails because it’s just overwhelming, right,” Temulty said. “And so, this is really nice because I’ve been able to practice this system on a small scale.”

That practice has certainly paid off, as Temutly now has three plots of land around Ellensburg where she grows crops with the help of her family. She has “Home Base,” Temulty’s first farm in her family’s yard, “Nan’s Plot” in her mother’s front yard which grows rows of flowers, and the “Dogtown Plot” in West Ellensburg.

She hopes other people join her in urban farming, and encourages people interested in agriculture to start small like she did.

“It’ll save local farmland that is constantly getting sold off to development,” Temulty said. “It’s going to impact our food web, our food system in the future. We need farmers that are first-generation farmers, because nobody is taking over their family farms. We need a lot of young people to get excited and to know that they can, they can do this, you can do it by now.”

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