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I’m Jen Hansard, mom of two, ultra runner and lover of green smoothies, coffee & tacos. I took my family's health into my own hands while broke and without health insurance...and have helped 1 million+ other families along the way.

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Backyard Garden Ideas Come to Life with Jen Hansard


Ohhhhh rawkstar! Today is such a good day! I get to show you around one of my most favorite places of all time… my own backyard. We call it “The Hansard Farm” around here, and I think you’ll see why soon enough.

I’m sorry if I went overload on the pics, but I wanted to show you EVERYTHING about the garden. I also want to give a special shoutout to Liz Bower for taking pics of us while her and her husband were visiting us a few months ago. When photos turn out this good, it’s really hard to just choose a few. 🙂

Garden Ideas into Reality

Growing up in Southern California, life moved at 500mph and we never seemed to be able to catch our breath. When we moved to Florida six years ago, the pace changed! We moved to a small farm town of 7,000 in central Florida. We technically live in a subdivision on the Tampa suburbs, but the dreams of living on a farm started to pop into my mind! I can literally drive 3 minutes down the road and see cow pastures, chicken farms and Arabian horse farms, so country life is all around me.

I crave the slow paced life, where our family gathers in the backyard to garden and play while the animals run around everywhere. Living on 1/3 acre with neighbors on both sides, hasn’t stopped us from turning our backyard garden ideas into reality.

Cool Farm + Garden Ideas from SimpleGreenSmoothies.com

Meet the Farm Animals

Two years ago, our family adopted 2 chickens, 2 rabbits and a guinea pig. We googled how to make a chicken coup that they could all live in together. Then we made a trip (or two or three) to Lowe’s, and started building.

We have learned a lot about “backyard defense” from having a few farm animals, including how short of a life cycle they can have if you don’t get it right! Sadly, we faced MANY predators, like foxes, raccoons and neighborhood dogs!

We have had to make a lot of changes to our initial coop. In fact, we are now on our third coup design and our second batch of chickens because the entire farm was attacked and killed one night! Thankfully my husband is really good at thinking outside the box and flexing his creative muscles. The new coop has been indestructible and our farm animals are super safe.

Last year, we added Huck the duck to the farm and she’s the mother to all the chickens. She tells then where to go and when to come to bed— its adorable. She’s also super cuddling with us and love to swim in her little pool.

Cool Farm + Garden Ideas from SimpleGreenSmoothies.com

Our chickens and Huck the Duck add so much energy to our backyard! They also add some beautiful and delicious eggs to our meals. It is so much fun to go out to the coup daily to see what they have left us. I love what it teaches our kids too about where our foods truly comes from. Look at these eggs:

Cool Farm + Garden Ideas from SimpleGreenSmoothies.comCool Farm + Garden Ideas from SimpleGreenSmoothies.com

SIMPLE RAISED GARDEN BEDS

If you follow along with us on Instagram (@simplegreensmoothies), you know how much I care about knowing where your food comes from. I am go grateful we are able to grow our own fruits and vegetables in our own backyard! It has been so rewarding to put in the hard work and be able to enjoy, not only the process, but the results!

A few years ago, Ryan, the kids and our friends Dan and Erin helped us build these raised garden beds. We love doing projects with our friends and are so thankful they almost always say yes to our invitations. Jackson and Clare joined me in planting our very first plants (strawberries and tomatoes)!

Cool Farm + Garden Ideas from SimpleGreenSmoothies.comCool Farm + Garden Ideas from SimpleGreenSmoothies.comCool Farm + Garden Ideas from SimpleGreenSmoothies.comCool Farm + Garden Ideas from SimpleGreenSmoothies.com

Over the years, we have added more and more veggies to our garden. Now my favorite things to grow are kale and cauliflower— I never thought I could do it. But look at this— I’m getting it down. The key to happy and healthy gardens is the compost. We compost all of our produce waste and feed it to our plants.

Cool Farm + Garden Ideas from SimpleGreenSmoothies.comCool Farm + Garden Ideas from SimpleGreenSmoothies.comCool Farm + Garden Ideas from SimpleGreenSmoothies.com

(the chickens love the kale too! 😉 )

DIY RAIN WATER COLLECTOR

In between the chicken coup and the flower bed, we have a rain water collector. This rain barrel is a great way to conserve our water on those hot Florida summer days. The kids love to use the watering can to give the plants a drink!

Cool Farm + Garden Ideas from SimpleGreenSmoothies.comCool Farm + Garden Ideas from SimpleGreenSmoothies.com

In the corner of our backyard garden, we have a beautiful butterfly garden that was my Mothers Day present a few years ago. We spent Mother’s Day shopping and planting together—
it was a very special day for us all. The butterflies are always fluttering through the air! It is such a peaceful part of our garden and I just love hanging out in the area just to watch the butterflies play.

Cool Farm + Garden Ideas from SimpleGreenSmoothies.com

QUICK TIP: If you want to attract the beautiful butterflies below called monarchs, plant Milkweed. It’s the only plant they eat and as soon as we planted it, the came to our yard!

Cool Farm + Garden Ideas from SimpleGreenSmoothies.com

OUR DUCK POND

Ohh, and of course Huck enjoys just hanging out in this corner of the Farm too! She has her own little pool to soak it all in. Every day I’ll find her chilling in the pool with the chickens drinking from it.

Cool Farm + Garden Ideas from SimpleGreenSmoothies.com

DIY COMPOST BIN

On the opposite side of the Farm, we have another really important part of our garden, the compost. We compost all of our food waste! By composting, we have pretty much eliminated the amount of garbage we have and it’s really helped our garden grow! Our compost makes the incredibly nutrient rich soil for our plants! Win Win!

Cool Farm + Garden Ideas from SimpleGreenSmoothies.comCool Farm + Garden Ideas from SimpleGreenSmoothies.com

Ryan is my compost man. He was way more passionate about enriching our soil with compost at first, but I’ve def seen the benefits of doing it. It’s just cool to know that every banana or orange peel is eventually going to become plant vitamins.

As I mentioned earlier, when I dream of our farm, I dream of a place where our family and friends gather. There is something for everyone in our backyard garden. Between the giant tree swing that friends and family helped us build, the slack line, tether ball, a fire pit, and picnic table, I am so proud to say that our backyard garden is full of laughter, community and fun!

Cool Farm + Garden Ideas from SimpleGreenSmoothies.comCool Farm + Garden Ideas from SimpleGreenSmoothies.comCool Farm + Garden Ideas from SimpleGreenSmoothies.comCool Farm + Garden Ideas from SimpleGreenSmoothies.comCool Farm + Garden Ideas from SimpleGreenSmoothies.comCool Farm + Garden Ideas from SimpleGreenSmoothies.comCool Farm + Garden Ideas from SimpleGreenSmoothies.com

The beauty of having a backyard garden is that it is always evolving. There is always something new budding or growing. I still dream of ways that we can add to our Hansard Farm— like a watermelon patch and some blueberry bushes. But in the meantime, I am loving the process and the way it has had me slow down and appreciate the beauty that surrounds me.

Cool Farm + Garden Ideas from SimpleGreenSmoothies.com

HAVE A QUESTION? ASK ME!

I am so excited that I got to share my backyard garden with you! I hope you’ve enjoyed it and that it maybe gave you ideas for your own backyard garden. If you have any questions, please ask below. I would love to answer them! Thank you for joining me on the Hansard Farm Tour.

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  1. Margot

    May 11th, 2017 at 9:20 am

    Thank you for sharing your garden photos with everyone! How fun! Love the chickens and duck 🙂

  2. Jen Hansard

    May 11th, 2017 at 8:45 pm

    Thanks Margot!!!! The duck is the best— she’s such a sweetheart.

  3. Lienna

    May 11th, 2017 at 9:59 am

    Omg love your garden! So cool! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Jen Hansard

    May 11th, 2017 at 8:45 pm

    Thank you Lienna for checking it out!!!! If you have any questions, just ask! I’d love to help you get to this place too!

  5. Vilma Rodriguez

    May 11th, 2017 at 10:01 am

    Thank you for sharing your back yard!! Is amazingly beautiful!!! Plus it inspire us to try it on our own

  6. Jen Hansard

    May 11th, 2017 at 8:46 pm

    Glad you enjoyed the tour Vilma. 🙂 You can totally do this— it’s possible!!!!

  7. Keah Archie-King

    May 11th, 2017 at 10:06 am

    Did you make the chicken wire barrier yourself? How did you do it?

  8. Jen Hansard

    May 11th, 2017 at 8:47 pm

    My husband did that part. He built a wood framed coop and then we wrapped it in THREE layers of wire. 1: traditional chicken wire. 2. cattle wire to stop the dogs from breaking through. 3. small wire to stop the hawks from getting their claws in there. It’s like a MAX security place. 🙂

  9. Katie Baker

    May 11th, 2017 at 10:31 am

    Wow! Your little farm is gorgeous! And in a plain suburban back yard, just like mine! Pleeeeaassee write a whole book. Photos, diagrams, how-to-do…I would positively gobble that up. I look at what you’ve built and see how it’s so possible, but honestly just freeze at the thought of where to start. Thank you for the tour!

  10. Jen Hansard

    May 11th, 2017 at 8:49 pm

    You can totally do it Katie!!!!!! I would love to write a book on this… gosh. Maybe I can pitch that as my third book deal? Haha! Thanks for the love and I woudl say first steps are figuring out what you really want (chickens, raised beds, compost, butterfly garden, rain barrel, etc). Then map out your backyard and draw up where those pieces could go. From there, tackle one project at a time. You got this girl!

  11. Donna Bazan

    May 11th, 2017 at 11:54 am

    You are living my dream life!! We currently live in Southern California and have been contemplating a move to the Tampa suburbs too. We’re looking for a horse property where our dogs, rabbits, chickens, parrots and horse can all live comfortably with us, and where there’s a great school district for our son, but is also close enough to enjoy all that Tampa has to offer. We’re excited to start gardening projects like you have, and look forward to growing our own greens for our smoothies! What towns have you stumbled upon there that sound like a good fit? Thanks so much for sharing your lifestyle with us!!!

  12. Jen Hansard

    May 11th, 2017 at 8:52 pm

    NO WAY?! Did you know I came from southern California 5 years ago?! Spent the first 27 years of my life there. Sounds like Brooksville might be calling you name… or Dade City? Honestly, reach out if you come this way and I can show you around.

  13. Cadie

    May 11th, 2017 at 1:39 pm

    How sad that you lost your flock before predator-proofing your chicken coop. I would be absolutely devastated if that happened to my girls. 🙂 We also have backyard chickens, raised beds, even fruit trees (pear, apple, peaches, and cherries)…all on about 1/3 of an acre too! I wouldn’t have it any other way. 🙂

  14. Jen Hansard

    May 11th, 2017 at 8:53 pm

    Oh, it was horrible Cadie when they were attacked. We cried and did a whole funeral…. and have really fortified the farm with the coop and a fence around the perimeter too. How many hens do you have?

  15. Lynn

    May 11th, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    Thank you for sharing your photos and garden knowledge! I love what you have done. I also live on the west coast of Florida, about an hour south of Tampa. Love the slow, quiet life style. Would love to know what plants and flowers grow well here for you. Since we are in a drought now I am having trouble losing plants because of the heat. Thanks for your input! Lynn

  16. Jen Hansard

    May 11th, 2017 at 8:55 pm

    Hi Lynn. I always try to buy Florida Native Plants so I don’t worry about watering often at all. Like 5 times a year…. max! I love the milkweed plant, lantana and pentas— lots of color and little maintenance. You’re sorta my neighbor…kinda cool!

  17. arleen coffin

    May 11th, 2017 at 3:29 pm

    Wow, I grew up in the country had a big garden a rhubarb patch but you have it made it is beautiful I lived in Gaspe Quebec, Canada .

  18. Jen Hansard

    May 11th, 2017 at 8:56 pm

    Thanks Arleen, that means a lot to me. <3

  19. Ann

    May 11th, 2017 at 5:13 pm

    Love your backyard! Can you share how you do your composting?

  20. Jen Hansard

    May 11th, 2017 at 8:56 pm

    Oooohh! Maybe I’ll do a video of Ryan showing us all how it’s done! That would be the most helpful. 🙂

  21. Janelle

    May 11th, 2017 at 5:19 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Jen! My boyfriend and I spent this past weekend at a farm, and absolutely LOVED it! The animals were friendly and we lived the farm-to-table concept as we picked fresh eggs, vegetables and herbs right at the backyard. I’d love to retire at a farm one day, but you make it seem that I don’t have to wait that long. Thanks!

  22. Jen Hansard

    May 11th, 2017 at 8:44 pm

    Yeah! Glad you enjoyed it!!! You def don’t have to wait that long. Work with what you have— it’s amazing what you can create with that alone. And the memories you can make through it as well. xoxox

  23. Karen

    May 11th, 2017 at 7:19 pm

    Can’t get much better than that! I love the little one with her great big beautiful smile, and boots on the wrong feet. Too cute! Please keep us updated with more pictures as things grow throughout the summer.

  24. Jen Hansard

    May 11th, 2017 at 8:43 pm

    Clare is a hoot. She’s never cared about shoes being on the right foot… or how wild and crazy her hair is. I think she takes after her mama. 🙂

  25. Cutressa M. Williams

    May 11th, 2017 at 8:55 pm

    Jen, WOW! I LOVE it! Thank you so, so much for sharing a glimpse of your gorgeous “farm” and your beautiful life! I am truly envious, in a good way, and inspired to create such a “life of love & energy too.” Thank you for the inspiration! Please keep the photos coming!!!

  26. Jen Hansard

    May 13th, 2017 at 11:17 pm

    Awwww, thanks Cutressa. Keep going after your dreams and I can’t wait to see what you create.

  27. Rosa

    May 11th, 2017 at 9:53 pm

    Thank you for sharing. I recently bought farm land that needs to be developed. Hoping to make it my retirement home. Your pictures have encouraged me even more.

  28. Jen Hansard

    May 13th, 2017 at 11:17 pm

    How fun is that Rosa?! Congrats on your retirement dream— it’s going to amazing. I feel it.

  29. Mary Anne

    May 13th, 2017 at 7:14 am

    So happy for you! We did something similar in our small suburban backyard…a lovely mix of flowers, fruits, veggies, chickens, goats, and a pool turned into fish pond complete with water plants and for awhile ducks. A flood took all that away and we are starting over in another place. Your story and pictures remind me why it’s worth the work. Thank you for sharing!

  30. Jen Hansard

    May 13th, 2017 at 11:21 pm

    Wow! Your yard sounded amazing! So sad about the flood, but fresh starts can create so many possibilities. Excited to see what you create in your new home…. because it is totally worth it.

  31. Tamara Chambers

    June 2nd, 2017 at 7:28 pm

    We just finished two raised beds in our backyard and have 4 chickens. Struggling with figuring out our composting area as our yard is much smaller (0.18 acre) property and don’t want to have the smell or rats (eek) near our house. Any suggestions? Thanks for inspiring us all!

  32. Silvia

    June 15th, 2017 at 10:20 am

    Hello Jen,I start with some basil and tomatoes, I don’t have much space, I was wondering how I keep bugs out from eating all the leaves. It seem like they keep coming with more friends.
    Should I start again? Is it bad if the bugs are there?are not good anymore?

  33. SGS Rawkstar Amanda

    June 26th, 2017 at 8:07 am

    Hi Silvia,

    Having trouble with bugs, especially on your tomato plants? I use a mild solution of water + a few drops of dish soap and a spray bottle. It’s a more natural way to keep those bugs at bay.

  34. Kristy Brooks

    July 20th, 2017 at 2:47 pm

    I love the dish that you are putting your eggs into! Where is it from?

  35. SGS Rawkstar Amanda

    July 20th, 2017 at 10:28 pm

    Thanks for the egg love, Kristy. You can find the dish here…

    https://www.houzz.com/photos/60815128/Egg-Crate-7×9-mediterranean-serveware

  36. Mary

    September 22nd, 2017 at 9:50 am

    Hi everyone,
    I don’t have any plans to have this type of garden, it’s just not for me, but I love the Simple Green Smoothies site and I LOVED seeing all your picturees Jen and reading the comments from other readers; I COULD FEEL THE ENTHUSIASM, and somehow even felt that I could shareit! Best wishes to everyone!

  37. SGS Rawkstar Amanda

    September 22nd, 2017 at 11:05 am

    Thanks for the love, Mary! You need to make gardening work for you! Having a farm has always been Jen’s passion, but we know it’s not for everyone.

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