And Krystal Keistler, area manager at the Arvada-based Echter's Greenhouse and Garden Center, notes that seed sales, particularly vegetable seeds, are up 35 percent since January; she's expecting a similar surge when customers start buying vegetable plants in early May. Once these new backyard farmers start producing food, Kraft says, they should be able to sell it at a weekly operation called the Highland Micro-Market this summer.

Beekeeping and hen-raising classes at the Denver Botanic Gardens sold out last year and could be offered again this fall; other classes will touch on these subjects over the summer. The Greater Denver Urban Homesteading Group, which started in January to promote urban agriculture and livestock, already boasts nearly 200 members. And this Friday, area businesses and organizations will kick off Grow Local Colorado, a campaign to plant 2,009 new food gardens statewide this year.

It doesn't hurt that the result of it all — pesticide- and preservative-free food that's as local as you can get — tastes darn good.

As I depart, John, who gives away whatever eggs or produce he can't use himself, offers me a carton of eggs produced by Mrs. Merriweather and her girlfriends. It's emblazoned with La Ferme's colorful logo and nitpicky storage directions.

The next morning, over breakfast, I start to understand the attraction of urban homesteading. As I dig into some of the best eggs I've ever had, I wonder how I'm going convince my wife to let me put a chicken coop by the garage.

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