Save Money by Planting a Food Garden

Tree Langdon

Volunteering at your community garden is another way to plant your own food.

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by congerdesign from Pixabay

The sudden appearance of Covid-19 took everyone by surprise.

Farmers have been especially hit hard.

Their entire distribution structure has been shaken and some aren’t sure if they will be able to make it through.

They’re trying to learn how to shift their business to this new reality.

Here’s a headline from Pennsylvania during the early days of Covid:

Sell 30,000 eggs or euthanize your chickens: Lehigh Valley farmers look for public’s support during coronavirus pandemic.
By Christina Tatu -THE MORNING CALL

It’s all too familiar. I’ve heard of farmers dumping excess milk or plowing fields of produce under.

On the other hand, there’s a huge increase in demand at food banks.

Wait, what?

At first glance, people are surprised. There’s a misconception that farmers should give away their excess food.

It is assumed they would keep production levels the same, even though they’ve lost their buyers.

After all, we clearly need the food.

Farmers Dumping Food vs Increased Demand for Food.

How is this happening?

We’ve created a food industry that encourages large farms that focus on supplying food processors, not consumers.

  • There are fewer local farms and markets to fall back on.

Processing plants are under pressure to close due to workers getting sick with the virus.

There are gaps in food distribution.

The new protocols required in the industry are costly and may take time to implement.

The workers that harvest, process, stock, and deliver food are being impacted by the virus too. This is a problem of our own creation.

Let’s get back to the farmer with the extra eggs.

That farmer usually sells his eggs to a facility that processes and packages them as liquid eggs for restaurants.

Restaurants are down to takeout orders only, so they’re no longer purchasing high quantities.

There are leftover eggs.

30,000 excess eggs every day. That’s a mountain of eggs.

When your chickens produce such a high volume and suddenly your major buyer isn’t buying, it’s a huge problem.

An all-hands-on-deck moment.

An egg avalanche.

It costs the farmer money to produce the food.

The chickens need to be fed and he has to pay the workers to clean and package the eggs.

But, people still need to eat. Why not sell directly to them?

It’s often a distribution thing. How do you find a large number of new buyers quickly?

  • Farmers have to be light on their feet and make arrangements with grocery stores.
  • It’s a dance and he has to learn the new steps.

It’s tricky for a large farm to pivot.

There are different rules and regulations when you sell directly to a store or to the public.

  • An egg washing machine is needed and you might need different packaging and more staff.
  • Finding new markets takes time and there are delivery costs to take into account.

Some farmers are locked into contracts with big buyers.

Retail stores have different preferences and needs.

And the excess piles up. Imagine 30,000 extra eggs every day.

And it all costs money.

Eventually, the farmer is forced to make some hard decisions.

Allemande left and Do Si Do.

Buy local.

Environmentalists have been saying this for years.

Support your local farmers.

Grow your own food.

One example of a buy-local experiment was the 100-mile diet.

Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon made a commitment to consume only foods grown within 100 miles of their apartment in the city of Vancouver for one year.

They included ingredients in packaged food in the challenge.

Eventually, they wrote a book about their experience.

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  • book-cover-the-100-mile-diet-by-alisa-smith-and-j-b-mackinnon

A Food Forest for the Community - a permaculture project.

A local initiative in Seattle, Washington, D.C. is focusing on a food forest in the city.

The Beacon Food Forest is a grassroots program focused on creating local food gardens. They have created a demonstration garden out of a patch of grass into a thriving ecosystem.

Several inspired permaculture students took a seven-acre plot of public land that was essentially a field near the water reservoir. With the support of the City of Seattle and the public, they created a project that integrates food plants into a self-sustaining, semi-natural ecosystem.

The Food Forest provides fresh produce, habitat for bees and other pollinators and it's a great educational opportunity for the community,

They donate to food banks, and most of the garden is open to anyone who wants to come and harvest the produce. They operate on a trust basis by extending trust to strangers. The community agreement is to take only what you need and always leave some for others.

The Seattle Department of Neighborhoods is their primary partner, taking care of the P-patch gardens and taking care of the water for the entire site.

Seattle Department of Neighborhoods provides resources and opportunities for community members to build strong communities and improve their quality of life.

Seattle Beacon Food Forest video

  • Shannon Gee meets the volunteers who made this unique idea an edible reality. Originally published 4/9/2015.

Planting Strips

The strip between the front of your property and the street is often an unattractive weedy patch of underutilized space.

In Seattle, they encourage you to grow flowers or plants that beautify the space.

If you want to add raised beds or plant trees, you need to apply for a free permit, to ensure that you follow the public safety requirements around sightlines.

Growing food is also an option, but the city prohibits fruit trees as it can cause a slipping hazard when ripened fruit falls on the sidewalk.

It's a bit more difficult to get water to the planting strip, but if it's the best patch of land you have, it might be worth a try.

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by Andreas Göllner from Pixabay

There are some advantages to this food crisis.

People are seeing the possible vulnerabilities in our food supply.

They’re discovering where their food really comes from and realizing it might be a good idea to participate by growing their own food.

My hope is that this awareness helps us focus on building stronger local food security with a balance on imports and exports.

And I hope more people will buy local.

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A merchant of dreams. ♡ I love to connect humanity to technology. I write news, and fiction, exploring Worldview plots. Was a CGA/CPA in a past life. I have a lot of life experience. Parenting, Art, Finance, Investing, Auditing, Project Management, Writing, Story Grid Method, Science, Forensic Anthropology, Extensive overseas travel including Asia, Greece, Thailand.

Seattle, WA
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