I've been gardening for so darn many years now that I've got it down to a science as to how much I need to grow of any one fruit or veggie to give us a year round supply. And I do consistently grow enough to make it from harvest to harvest. I either can, dehydrate or freeze our bounty for use throughout the year. I know how many beds of onions will give us a year's supply, how many rows of beans or peas I need to harvest and freeze to get us through the year, how many feet of pickling cucumbers I need to can all the pickles we'll eat in a year's time, etc.
We share our garden produce with our daughter. Neighbors and friends find grocery bags of fresh veggies and baskets of berries foisted upon them whether they want them or not. I think it's because I love gardening so much that over the years I've gradually come to the point where I'm producing way more than we can use. This probably is not the wisest use of my time.
We have an active Farmer's Market every Saturday morning in our small town during the summer season. Hubby and I were part of the organizing group years ago when the market was first set up. I could sell my extra produce there. But I would have to figure in the four to five hours spent each Saturday manning a booth (let alone the extra time to harvest and package produce, plus travel and set-up), and I know I certainly couldn't pay myself anything for those hours. My days are never long enough to fit in everything I want to do, so my choice isn't to spend hours selling produce for a small amount of cash reimbursement. (It's a curious thing that people feel that any food available at a "farmer's market" should be priced more economically than that at a grocery store. Seeing as how the food products at the market are grown locally, are fresher, are most of the time organically grown and free of poisons and definitely healthier, one would think customers would be willing to pay a reasonable price.)
I've sold extra produce to our organic co-op (an organization which has become so successful it functions as a bona fide third grocery store in town) but there again, they say they cannot pay me any more for my produce than that which they pay to their wholesale suppliers from whom they purchase in bulk.
Two years ago we tried some market gardening (I grew even MORE than I usually do!) to sell to a restaurant in town. The owner happily took virtually everything we offered. I did all the growing, harvesting and packaging while my husband did the actual delivering. Bottom line, the trade off of time expended for cash earned was not our wisest investment. If for some reason we were to try market gardening again, we would do it differently having learned a lot the first time around.
Our local "food shelf" has just this past month gained the equipment needed to offer fresh produce. I'm thinking that would be a good place to take extra vegetables from my garden.
I do so love the personal satisfaction and physical exercise gardening gives me and would miss it greatly if for some reason I no longer gardened. But the main reason we choose to garden is to provide ourselves with the freshest, healthiest, organically grown food possible. And to that end, I'm proud to say we are succeeding.
Now it's time to rethink the whole gardening scenario so that I'm working smarter rather than harder and proceed from there. I know it's time to cut back. Can I do it? (Ah, so many seeds; so little time.)
Next garden post: Why I prefer raised beds for some crops and the traditional field garden plot for others.
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