Buy and Sell Organic Produce … FREE?

What do you do when time, the economy, and practicality way-lays your “Organic Farming Dream?” Improvise, and plan. I didn’t know it earlier, but there’s a saying that goes:

“If you don’t plan, then plan to fail.”

I always thought that if I got the next degree, license, or certificate, then all would be fine. But I’ve lived most of my life in the up-and-down economy of California. So, like Buddhism, I working on a “Middle Path.”

11 or 25 acres out in the hot, mosquito infested country may not be feasible for me at this time in my life, but a cheap little foreclosed home financed by the Veteran’s Administration is. Hell, growing a garden in the back and flowers in the front may well be just as rewarding. Now, to the newest idea I’ve come across:

My Organic Acres appears to be one answer to Monsanto and Agri-Business’ move to own all farming and feed us crap that makes us fat and unhealthy. (For instance, the Russet potatoes being sold in Safeway, Lucky’s or Kroger’s TODAY are so genetically loaded with sugar that you can’t even make the same lower calorie recipes you could make 13 years ago. You have to buy the smaller ones.) No wonder Diabetes and Cancer rates are off the charts.)

My Organic Acres promises to deliver you with fresh, organic produce that YOU CHOOSE. Plus, you can get more from other farmers and either sell at the Farmer’s Market of your choice or their, online Farmer’s Market. You can even donate the produce to the poor as a tax write off.

Urban Farming In Cleveland

Everything that initially looks bad … ain’t always bad. Sometimes it turns into a blessing. Take Cleveland for instance …  read how yet another city is coming up with creative ways to solve their problems of declining quality of life  (orignal story here).

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Cleveland Council approves urban farming, teardown of foreclosed homes

Posted by Henry J. Gomez/Plain Dealer Reporter February 02, 2009 22:05 PM Real Time News CLEVELAND –

The City Council on Monday approved two measures aimed at reshaping the city’s urban landscape.

In short, the Cleveland City government has realized it’s time to demolish abandoned homes and buildings and allow residents to grow their own food on the unused land.

Decades of population drain, industrial death and, most recently, the foreclosure crisis have left about 3,300 vacant acres in the city, and at least 15,000 vacant buildings.

The other ordinance sets guidelines for how Mayor Frank Jackson will spend $25.5 million in federal neighborhood improvements funds. The bulk of the money will be used to tear down abandoned homes left behind by the foreclosure epidemic.

One ordinance will allow residents to raise and keep farm animals and bees. It’s a step, proponents believe, toward finding innovative uses for vacant land. “We want people to be able to grow their own food,” Cimperman said.

The ordinance allows residents to keep chickens, ducks, rabbits and beehives but not roosters, geese or turkeys. A typical residential lot could have no more than six small animals and two hives

Urban farmers face opportunities and obstacles

“You don’t need a ton of infrastructure to produce food,” she said. “You need access to land, water, sun and know-how. That’s not a lot of barriers to entry compared to other start-ups,” said ordinance sponsor, Councilman Joe Cimperman.

Customers at the ever-expanding number of local farmers markets are snapping up so much of what grows in the city that the gourmet chefs who also demand local produce can scarcely get enough.

New York’s Garden Girl

ggpattiforweb_400-1Patricia Moreno is a nice Puerto Rican girl who grew up in Spanish Harlem. “The Garden Girl”  was educated at Nightingale-Bamford School for girls. So how did this Manhattan bred New Yorker end up being with her own backyard farm … a television show (about it), a magazine and a Farmer’s Almanac sponsorship??

“Her path to Urban Sustainable Living began in the mid 1990’s, after gaining seventy pounds during her pregnancy, and needing a way to be physically active and eat healthier. This began her path to finding and learning ways to make gardening fun and also fit into the city.” (From, “The Farmer’s Almanac“)

Patti has ideas. (And game.) Visit her website to view both. With her techniques, you don’t need a lot of land. This is a wonderful time to add quality to your life by raising some or all of your own food. Some might even say, if you don’t start at least THINKING about it … then you’re not paying attention …

Detroit: Model For Urban Farming

Food Among the Ruins

by Mark Dowie

Reprinted from Guernica: http://www.guernicamag.com/spotlight/1182/food_among_the_ruins/
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“Detroit, the country’s most depressed metropolis, has zero produce-carrying grocery chains. It also has open land, fertile soil, ample water, and the ingredients to reinvent itself from Motor City to urban farm. Mark Dowie’s immodest proposal…

‘Were I an aspiring farmer in search of fertile land to buy and plow, I would seriously consider moving to Detroit. There is open land, fertile soil, ample water, willing labor, and a desperate demand for decent food. And there is plenty of community will behind the idea of turning the capital of American industry into an agrarian paradise. In fact, of all the cities in the world, Detroit may be best positioned to become the world’s first one hundred percent food self-sufficient city.’

Right now, Detroit is as close as any city in America to becoming a food desert, not just another metropolis like Chicago, Philadelphia, or Cleveland with a bunch of small- and medium-sized food deserts scattered about, but nearly a full-scale, citywide food desert. (A food desert is defined by those who study them as a locality from which healthy food is more than twice as far away as unhealthy food, or where the distance to a bag of potato chips is half the distance to a head of lettuce.) About 80 percent of the residents of Detroit buy their food at the one thousand convenience stores, party stores, liquor stores, and gas stations in the city. There is such a dire shortage of protein in the city that Glemie Dean Beasley, a seventy-year-old retired truck driver, is able to augment his Social Security by selling raccoon carcasses (twelve dollars a piece, serves a family of four) from animals he has treed and shot at undisclosed hunting grounds around the city. Pelts are ten dollars each. Pheasants are also abundant in the city and are occasionally harvested for dinner. (Click here to read more about Glemie Beasley)

Detroiters who live close enough to suburban borders to find nearby groceries carrying fresh fruit, meat, and vegetables are a small minority of the population. The health consequences of food deserts are obvious and dire. Diabetes, heart failure, hypertension, and obesity are chronic in Detroit, and life expectancy is measurably lower than in any American city.
Not so long ago, there were five produce-carrying grocery chains—Kroger, A&P, Farmer Jack, Wrigley, and Meijer—competing vigorously for the Detroit food market. Today there are none. Nor is there a single WalMart or Costco in the city…..” (Click here to read entire story)

Canadian Woman’s Homestead Blog

Blogging is interesting. Sometimes people you’d never meet in lifeKristeva Dowling stop by and say, “hi”. That’s one of the biggest things that attracts me to a rural or semi-rural life … the possibility of unpretentious neighbors.

Sure, people are people no matter where you go … and there’s crime and drugs everywhere, but if you do your homework, you can GREATLY decrease the likely-hood you’ll run into the same kinds of problems you will in most major cities.

A woman named Kristeva Dowling is just the type of person I’m talking about. She and her husband … well … let her tell it:

“… I live on a small mixed farm on the west coast of British Columbia in a remote First Nations village town. In 2008, I quit my job, returned to the farm and committed to a project that I have dreamed  of attempting for several years. That is, to provide all the food we will eat for a year. This will entail growing vegetables, raising meat animals, fishing, and learning to hunt. I do not have an agricultural background, but know that farming is in my blood. It is almost all I can think about. If I won the lottery, I would buy a large farm or ranch and spend the rest of my life spending the money farming!”

Here’s her blog. Lots of real life stories of new farmers making a new kind of life for themselves. Extremely interesting. Have fun … and send her some comments if any come to mind.

UC Santa Cruz Small Farm Course

Grow A Farmer

Cultivating The Next Generation

“There’s a revolution underway–from inner city farmer’s markets to community to community supported agriculture (CAS), to school cafeterias grow a farmerthat serve locally grown locally grown food, people across the country AND THE WORLD are rejecting industrial food and farming in favor of local, organic, community-scale systems. Now the most critical challenge is ironically, the lack of with the training and knowledge to produce and market fresh, delicious organic food while caring for the land AND THE COMMUNITY they work and sell to.” (from the Grow A Farmer website)

Look at the signs of the time … With President Obama signed onto the Green Economy, the entire grid of the United States is going to have to be re-built.  The day of 18-wheelers transporting crops from one cost to another also has a “time-date” stamp marked on it. The only constant in the universe is change, and the way we grow food is no different.

AgicultureCareers.com states that the Department of Labor Employmment and Training Administration for direct farm workers are:

Today’s agriculture offers over 200 rewarding and challenging careers. 32% of these openings will be in science, engineering, and related specialties like Marketing, merchandising and sales. Many of the position are located in urban areas. See: AgricultureCareers.com

Opportunities are abundant for minority candidates. According to the 1990 census:

  • African Americans accounted for only 3.1% of employed foresters
  • and 6.9% of employed forestry technicians
  • Industry sources would like to increase those numbers by three to four times in the near future.

The University of Santa Cruz has an internationally respected, SIX-MONTH small, organic farming program. Click here to read more.

YouTube Grow A Farmer and check it out for yourself.

Small Farming for Profit and Stewardship

Alan Nancy HicksHere are two people who decided to do whatever they needed to do so they could do what they WANT to do. That means stepping out of the box, defining what their dream life really looks like, what is essential for them, and then partnering to get it done.

North Carolina farmer Alex Hitt and his wife Betsy have worked their 26 acre farm in Graham, N.C. into an environmental gem and profit center. “Over the years, Hitt has reduced acreage and labor by improving their soil with cover crops, concentrating on high-value crops that grow well in the area. What he has not reduced is profit, thanks to direct marketing through the Caroboro Farmers Market and Weaver Street Market, a cooperative grocery store in the area.

“Each acre returns a minimum of $20,000 annually, while four high-tunnel greenhouses (that shelter young or delicate crops) bring in $1,000 per crop. The Hitts embrace their small scale, growing 80 varieties of 23 vegetables along with 164 varieties of cut flowers on just three acres. Alex and Betsy were winners of the 2006 Patrick Madden Award for Sustainable Agriculture from Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program.” (~Reprinted from “Small American Farm” magazine”, January 2007 issue.)

Alex and Betsy Hitt delivered the keynote address at the January 12-13, 2007 “Future Harvest Alliance Conference” in Hagerstown, Maryland.  Learn more about this and other Future Harvest-CASA information on their website at: http:/www.futureharvestcasa.org/, or email: fhacasa@verizon.net.

In rural areas where the average income is between $13,000 and $18,000 annually, the Hitts are making $64,000 (!!) by doing their market research and making money in ways that people raised in urban areas might seem unorthodox. Yet, who wouldn’t relish spending a day selling products they’ve grown and produced on their own land? It isn’t hard to make organic Cheese … and you can use milk from the little, gentle cow mentioned on: “Small Cow Farm.com