A reoccuring theme on Onestraw is my faith in Suburbia’s ability to produce enough food to make it a viable alternative the ag land it paved over. It is an undeniable fact that our current urban planning system is completely addicted to the automobile and cheap oil. My example is typical. I drive 19 miles to work -each way- and the closest grocery store is literally 7 miles away. And that is a Super Walmart. Crap. We typically drive to Madison to Whole Foods in our once a month Shopping Trip to stock up, and do weekly trips to a Natural Foods store near our Church (25 miles away -the density of Unitarian congregations is not what it should be) for Soy Milk, Eggs, and other stables that we run out of more often. Granted our town is small (2012 souls), but even 60 years ago it was a vibrant community. My dream is that it can be again -a big driver of that is rekindling local food production. Thanks to some fellow Stumbler, I stumbled upon (what a great idea!) some really great sites and ideas lately on this front.
First off there is Your Backyard Farmer. Started by two women in Portland, the basic business plan is an “on site” CSA. They will come to your home (or business!) and build a garden. They will then tend it all year leaving the produce on your porch weekly for about $40/wk. That is a little steeper than most CSA’s here in WI, but think of the upside to the consumer: no driving to delivery sites, free landscaping, and after you are done with the contract you have great friable soil in your own yard! Year one they grossed over $2000 weekly on just their 50 gardens, not counting market sales and consulting. Would work best in dense urban markets to limit drive time, but regardless: Really Exciting!
Second cool resource is the Mini Farms Network. Very similar to a site that I had envisioned creating before I ended up deciding to continue blogging in this WordPress format. Good high level introduction to small scale food production focusing on Raised Beds, low input, and appropriate technology (hand tools and bicycles). Very informational and inspiring site.
Final Resource of the week will be the Ecological Farming Association. I, like many sustainable farmers (the term I typically use), am continuing to struggle finding an appropriate term for what I do. I am “beyond Organic” in so far as they now have Organic Oreos and Cheerios. There is a fundamentally difference in how I grow food than those growing 500 acres of veggies in a monocrop, controling weeds through intense cultivation, etc. This is not to say that reduced spraying is a HUGE first step, but I feel that in many “industrial” Organic operations, the term Organic has moved closer to the status quo while myself and other sustainable farmers (to be!) remain committed to more wholistic ideals. Ecological Farming is a term that is gaining momentum and includes the systems thinking that is inherent in most sustainable farms. Still exploring this site, but it is very encouraging.
Even as I am ramping up specific planning (moved from veggie rotations to cultivar selection this week!) it is very encouraging to keep abreast of some of the other fantastic work that is being done out there!
Be the Change!