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The Farmer’s Garden

June 22nd, 2011


Guest Blogger Maureen Farmer has come up with the perfect solution for all of you ‘locavores.’  She has created a mash-up of her passions (gardening + web development) and as a result started The Farmer’s Garden – Your Online Resource for Local Produce.

The Idea

A few years ago, I tried vegetable gardening in one 3 by 6 raised bed to save money, eat healthier and become more self-sufficient. I was so thrilled with the outcome that the next year I enrolled in my State’s Extension Service Master Gardener program. I discovered that I had a passion for growing vegetables and wanted to learn more about gardening in general.

Since then, every year I have expanded my garden by building one or two additional raised beds. Now I have eight raised beds and grow more varieties of vegetables and herbs every year. This year I’m trying potatoes and acorn squash for the first time. I also built a miniature greenhouse out of old metal storm windows so that I can extend my growing season. I also use it as a place to start my seedlings in the spring.

I tend to get a little carried away and end up harvesting more produce than I can eat, freeze and give away. I soon realized that I am delighted to give my extra vegetables and herbs away to my family, friends, and neighbors. People seem genuinely happy to receive a bag of mixed greens or a zucchini. As the saying goes – one of the most difficult things to give away is kindness; it usually comes back to you.

My current profession is a web application developer/project manager. Two years ago, I taught myself the PHP programming language to supplement my existing programming skills. Home gardening is growing more popular every year and everyone enjoys just harvested homegrown produce. I had the idea to combine my profession and passion to create The Farmer’s Garden so everyone can have access to locally grown food.

It’s Easy

The Farmer’s Garden is the place to post free classified ads to sell, trade or give away your excess backyard produce. Individuals and food pantries can also register and post wanted classifieds. Free registration is required to post a classified (we need to know your zip code for it to work), but anyone can search for ads within their local area.

If you’re looking for fresh locally grown seasonal produce, visit The Farmer’s Garden website. Simply enter your US zip code, select the radius that you are willing to travel and see what people in your area have to offer. Share your surplus harvest with people in your area. You’ll be surprised how wonderful a small act of kindness will make you feel.

Many backyard gardeners also grow varieties of produce not found in your local grocery store. This is a terrific opportunity to taste new foods. If you don’t know how to prepare something, ask the grower. He or she will probably offer you several tasty recipes to try. You might even make a new friend in the process.

Join Us

The Farmer’s Garden is relatively new, so if you don’t find what you’re looking for today, try again next week. We have registered users in almost every state and the number of visitors to the website has been steadily increasing every month. We’re growing every day.

About the Author: 

 Maureen Farmer is a master gardener and has loved plants all her life. She enjoys growing vegetables, herbs and flowers in her yard, writing gardening articles and giving advice to her acquaintances. She grows most of her own produce in homemade wooden raised beds.

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Garbage in, Garbage out!

June 14th, 2011


You are what you eat, and in American, we are petroleum.  Some of you might be agreeing with me while others are scratching their heads. So I will elaborate for you. The following exert is taken from a 2004 article called, Eating Fossil Fuels by Dale Allen Pfeiffer. I provided the link below and recommend you read it in its entirety.

In the United States, 400 gallons of oil equivalents are expended annually to feed each American (as of data provided in 1994). Agricultural energy consumption is broken down as follows:

  • 31% for the manufacture of inorganic fertilizer
  • 19% for the operation of field machinery
  • 16% for transportation
  • 13% for irrigation
  • 08% for raising livestock (not including livestock feed)
  • 05% for crop drying
  • 05% for pesticide production
  • 08% miscellaneous

Energy costs for packaging, refrigeration, transportation to retail outlets, and household cooking are not considered in these figures.

Our food now travels from between 1,500 and 2,500 miles from farm to table. With a highly efficient semi-truck getting 6 to 8 mpg your looking at an average of 286 gallons of gas to get that food to your table. The sad thing, is that it isn’t even good food. Modified, picked green, force ripened, altered, these are all common terms and practices. I challenge each of you to take a trip to your local grocery store with one goal, to leave with only REAL food. By that I mean no altered ingredients, no pesticides or hormones, no unnatural colorants or preservatives, just food grown from start to finish the way it did 100 years ago.  I am in no way a purest, but I did this on a recent trip as I strolled through, some isles were completely passed without even stepping down, and when I hit that final one with a meager amount of organic produce that I could only assume fit the criteria I came to the realization, there is NO FOOD HERE!!! Wow, Mother Nature gave us this beautiful planet, had everything figured out, and we didn’t think that was good enough. I am not a fan of scare tactics, my intent is to make everyone a little more aware; I am only briefly touching on this subject here and will elaborate more on different areas in future blogs. For now try to educate yourself a little more on the food you eat. My recommended reading this time is Tomatoland: how modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed our Most Alluring Fruit, by Barry Estabrook.

Just remember folks Garbage in, is Garbage out…  Thanks for your time, John Cavanagh

About John:

John Cavanagh has spent 20 years in the food service industry and is currently the general manager of Tuck Shop in the Coronado Historic District in Phoenix and Owner/ Operator of John’s Premium® Tonic Syrup. With his uncle being a third generation farmer in Montana, his passion and experience with food gives him a unique perspective on where agriculture is and should be going here in America.

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Urban Sharecropping: A Win-Win Situation

November 17th, 2010


If you’ve ever happily gardened then moved into a new apartment or home that did not have sufficient garden space or sun exposure, you know how frustrating it is to not be able to grow your own foods. And, if you’ve ever tried to enjoy the freshest foods possible from growing your own then realized your thumb is far from green, you know the disappoint that ensues from genuinely wanting the best to no avail.

Today there are more opportunities for people to work together to obtain the joys of gardening and best foods for eating. One opportunity is through urban sharecropping, where gardeners partner with homeowners to reap the bounties of freshly grown foods. The gardener tends to a garden that they prepare in a homeowner’s yard then both parties split the harvest.

It’s a win-win situation and it makes perfect sense, especially when someone has a big yard that goes unused and there is someone else who is itching to dig in the dirt and enjoy the many rewards from gardening.

One business that helps gardeners and homeowners connect is Sharing Backyards, whose goal is to make sure that anyone who wants to garden and grow food for themselves can. With programs across the globe, from Berkeley, CA to Wellington, NZ to Edmonton, AB, Sharing Backyards helps to make healthy, local, organic food access to many people a reality.

For an interesting article on urban sharecropping read ‘The Rise of the Lazy Locavore,’ via The Wall Street Journal | Food & Drink.

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