Pandemic = Urban Sustainability

Interview Transcript

Joe: I had the pleasure of talking to Dmitriy Kabargin. He’s a resident of St Louis City andhe’s really into the urban sustainability type of lifestyle. With the whole Covid-19 Pandemic going on right now, sustainability is becoming a hot topic.

Transforming a City Backyard

Dmitriy: Thank you for interviewing me. It feels like it’s a very important topic. It’s unfortunate that people start paying attention to you. You told me when the pandemic happened. It has been important for a while. We always loved growing things. Anything from tomatoes and cucumbers and fruits and vegetables. and about five, six years ago, we went on a tour, that had about 40, 50 yards. People had some amazing ideas and amazing things in their backyards. Not only gardens. They had solar panels, they had rain barrels. They had chickens and bunnies and honeybees, and you name it. So, we got really inspired and excited about it. And it was like, people really do this in the city. And you can eat fresh, organic, nutrient dense, delicious food from your own backyard. So, after that I transformed. I came back and transformed my backyard. I tried to implement as many ideas as I could possibly fit in the small space of the city backyard.

Joe: Did you have to search out people to help you with, you know, find out how to do this? How to do that and where to buy this stuff?

Rain Barrels, Bees and Chickens, Vertical Gardens

Dmitriy: What’s neat about it, once you go on the Sustainable Backyard Tour and if you like some specific yards, you just, get the context from the host and say, “Hey, is it okayif I call you “or text you sometimes and ask more questions “on how to do something that you like.”. The people usually are very open to it. So when you go ona tour, you learn a lot of great ideas, and you learn about different topics. One of the great ideas is to have a rain barrel. What’s great about it, you get a fresh water for your plants, without chlorine, and without any chemicals. And the water is free. It’s one of the easiest solutions to have in your backyard to help your garden and help nature. It has over-flows the same size as an inflow. So whenever rain barrel gets full all the overflow on tap goes into the garden and any extra water just gets in the garden and absorbs in the soil. We have a bird bath of a water for the bees. There are some currants and gooseberries and blackberries, an apple tree and this is a bee bed. It opens up and you lay on top of the hives and you can experience thesmell and buzzing of the bees. It’s completely safe. You don’t get stung or anything because the bees are flying separately. They have entrance on the outside. This is where we opened up to show where the frames are, where they store honey. This is the beds, garden beds, where we put all the chicken manure in the fall and over winter. It becomes such a rich soil, look at this. It’s very, very rich soil. We keep alsoa cover on top to keep the moisture and keep the weeds down. It helps the compost to break down faster and helps, keeps all the microorganisms happy too. This is a native bee hotel partners for the garden. These are solitary bees, so they don’t sting you. When you have small yards in the city, you have to start growing work vertically. So, this is a vertical garden. I just used some gutters and placed them on the South side of the fence. I used to grow strawberries and lettuce in them. The only problem was that they dry out too fast, so you have to water them twice a day, at least. This is a Hugo Culture. All the rain runoff from the patio goes into this mulch pile. It has some logs with the manure on the bottom and then it hasa mulch on top. It looks like a sponge. It absorbs all the rain runoff water. It creates composting and the composting then feeds the grass and the grass becomes very green. You can’t see it now, but now it’s very, very green after it’s been raining for awhile. So, and you know, those logs start breaking down the mycelium grow and willcreate a lot of nutrients for the plants. You can plant on top of the Hugo Mound and you don’t have to fertilize the soil. We try to maximize use of the space. We just use this side along the fence for the chicken run. It wouldn’t take much room. Everything goes into the chicken coop. Grass clippings, dry leaves, dry grass. Wood chips, kitchen scraps. Everything that would be in a dumpster, goes into the chickenrun. And chickens will pick up all the seeds so you don’t have the weeds in the garden later on. They also till the compost for you. Once a year we use a deep littersystem, so we don’t clean the chicken coop once a month. We clean it once a year after it all broken down and became very good soil and there’s no smell. We pick it out and then we just transform it into the garden bed. It’s so much easier to keep chickens this way and so much healthier for the soil and for your garden.

What’s the future for you or your family?

The sustainability, you know, in a perfect world, if you could forget what you do during the day for your job, you know, would you do more of this or what?

Dmitriy: Very easy to make. You take any logs, you drill some holes and, bees will occupy it.

The native bees, they’re very important pollinators. They say that about 150 native bees will pollinate as much as 60,000 honeybees, and the reason they do that because they’re usually looking for the shortest distance to the food source to their home. They are perfect food forest.

Food Forest

Well, my dream would be to have a food forest where you can grow throughout the whole season. Anything that can grow in your climate. And that’s what I’m trying to do with my properties. I planted a lot of different fruit trees. We have anything from plum tree, cherry trees, apple trees. Peaches, all kinds of berry. Blackberries and raspberries and gooseberries and redcurrant. And just eat it in season, eat fresh, eathealthy. You know, it’s amazing experience. You get all the fresh fruit. I want to thank you for some time today. We’ll put the link for how folks can see your backyard, on the Sustainable Backyard Tour, that website. And yeah, just it’s really cool what you’re doing. And like you said, it’s unfortunate that it took the pandemic to bring this to awareness, but a lot of people are thinking that way now.

Dmitriy: Thank you, Joe.

Joe: You’re welcome, thank you