Food shopping is becoming increasingly expensive. It seems like the rising oil prices are not only making us pay more at the gas stations, but also at grocery stores. Buying organic food from the grocery store can run up your grocery bills and may also become a time consuming process if you have to take time off and go shopping for food. The less expensive and sustainable alternative could be starting your own small scale, home based farm that could supply you with enough food to support your family, or at least, take a big load off of your grocery bills.
If you own a property where you could easily raise and grow some edible plants, fruit bearing trees, or vegetables, you could easily have a source of food. Growing your own food not only ensures that you are getting a fresh supply of fruits and vegetables grown in organic way, but it also reduces greenhouse gases. The food that you buy form the grocery store has to travel 1500 miles on average before it reaches your table. Growing your own food can easily eliminate the carbon produced while transporting, processing, and storing the food.
Recent studies have also shown that small scale farms are more productive when you compare the data to larger farms. The food produced per square area is between 200 to 1000 percent more productive, if you take all the expenses and overheads into account. Therefore, having a small farm can also become a steady source of income for you with minimum effort.
Productivity of small farms per unit area
Larger farms use the term “yield” to measure productivity, which tells you how much crop you can harvest from a unit area. This measurement is comparatively relevant in a monoculture, or when a single crop is being produced. Small farmers, on the other hand, tend to have “mixed culture” farms, where they have several types of crops and livestock being produced. When you grow several types of crops and farm animals in the same space, using the same resources food and water, you can increase the efficiency and ecological balance.
For example, small farmers can have crops growing in the fields, animals grazing in the fields, and fish growing in the ponds all at the same time. When they are ecologically balanced, they waste less energy and become more productive.
In a typical large farm where only one type of crop is grown, there are rows of crops and empty space in-between, where other species grow. The other species taking advantage of the empty spaces between the rows of crops has to be removed with tractors or through weed removers, sprays, or chemicals. Large farms grow only one type of crop because it’s easier to manage crops and weeds using machines.
Small farmers can use the empty space in between the rows of crops to grow some other types of crops, and weed out the unwanted species manually, or using organic methods, more easily.
Things you can grow around your house
If you live in the city and don’t have enough space, you can still grow some plants in your backyard, kitchen garden and on your deck, balcony, porch, veranda, patio, or any other open space that you may have in your house or extending from your house. Some people living in compact apartments can also grow plants indoors, using pots and containers. You may place these containers indoors, near a window, on the window sill or anywhere that air and light can reach the plants.
Below is a list of the six most common vegetables you can grow in your home garden or small scale farm to maximize your profit.
1. Carrots: Carrots can be grown in your kitchen garden, backyard, or in pots indoors. It grows best in soft rock free soil. If the soil is rocky, you’ll get crooked carrots, which are perfectly good for eating but not very pleasant to look at. There are many different varieties of carrots available. Ask your local farmers or supply stores for the right type of carrots for you.
2. Lettuce: You can’t beat the benefits of freshly grown salads from your own home garden. Apart from the nutritional value, you get a quick snack from your freshly harvested lettuce leaves that can add up to big savings on groceries and trips to the store. Lettuce and a variety of micro-greens can be chopped and eaten when they are barely a few weeks old.
3. Beans: Beans are the easiest type of vegetable that you can grow in your home garden. Growing the climbing type can maximize use of space.
4. Cucumber: Cucumber plants need plenty of space to grow. Choose a smaller variety to make your own homemade pickles, or eat in a salad.
5. Spinach: Spinach makes a great salad that is high in iron. Mix it right in with the lettuce and the fresh young leaves blend right in.
6. Tomatoes: You can get fruits from your tomato plants all summer long. It needs a little sun and water to get a good harvest.
Tower gardens are ideal for indoor urban farming, where you can grow a variety of different species of plants, with minimal supervision. It’s versatile enough for growing plants like tomatoes, herbs, lettuce, cucumber, and a variety of flowers.
The concept of foraging for food is not a new one. Foraging for food and hunting wild animals go a long way back in the early development of the human race and predates planned agriculture. Back in the early stages, all humans survived through foraging and hunting. (Foraging: Wild Edible Plants & Mushrooms)
It is still possible to find food in the wild and support your family in the modern world. Foraging behavior is in our blood and we inherited this trait from our ancestors. Below are some foraging safety tips.
1. Research: Research the types of edible plants that grow in your area via the internet, books and iPhone apps. Walk around the area you want to forage first, and make sure you know the kinds of plants you can safely collect. Some plants are poisonous, and others host harmful insects or animals.
2. Avoid foraging near highways: For your safety and health concerns, avoid foraging near highways or busy roads because toxic gases from the exhaust of vehicles can be absorbed in the plants.
3. Avoid trespassing: Do not trespass on private farmlands. Get permission for foraging in private lands before entering.
4. Rinse off: Rinse off any fruits or vegetables you gather through foraging before storing or eating them.
5. Gather your supplies: Keep safety supplies handy, including cardboard boxes for delicate flowers and berries, paper bags for fruits and vegetables, rubber gloves and a first aid kit.
To learn more about small farms, foraging and their benefits please join us on our next webinar huddle, to be held on the 6th of August, here at NTP CEED headquarters live. We are excited to have Dr. Jennifer Orlowski, as our guest.
Source : Nourish The Planet