While most city and suburb dwellers despair over their lack of available farmland for growing produce or raising livestock, one innovative locavore bypassed the conventional Kelly green lawn for a more sustainable backyard. Novella Carpenter, a resident of downtown Oakland, California,  succeeded in transforming her relatively small urban property into a “farmlette”—complete with chickens, vegetables and fruit trees, and pigs.

Co-author of The Essential Urban Farmer (Penguin, 2011), Carpenter offers tips on how to become a homesteader in modern times. “Start with foods you like and that are easy to grow,” advises Carpenter in an interview with Organic Connections. “A lot of first-time gardeners start with things that sound healthy but that they don’t eat, like kale,” she says. “Then they grow it but don’t like it.” A salad mix makes for the perfect yard crop. “A mix with mesclun and other greens, sown very closely together, makes a beautiful carpet and it will really blow your mind how good it tastes.”

Read more in Organic Connections.