I’ve been looking at prices everywhere it seems. Loaves of whole wheat sandwich bread at the regular grocery are priced over $4/loaf! Whole grain cereals are well above $3, organic raises the price even higher. Last night I took a little shopping trip to one of Dallas’ destination stores for artisan and organic foods. Organic milk is between $5.19 and $6 a gallon, the price of artisan bread had raised a dollar, while the size of the loaf had shrunk considerably. Artisan cheese had raised at least $2/lb in price. The press is on for the consumer and the farmer at the other end, only the middle man is unharmed. Seasonal produce prices seem to be holding steady, but organic fruits and vegetables were both hard to find and precious in price.
Most people think of the hallmarks of summer, tomatoes and peppers, when they think of gardening. However, fall gardening is both easy and productive. I plan on growing like I have never grown before—using my community garden plots, home garden, containers, and even my front landscaping to grow healthful and affordable food for my family. This will give me about 650 square foot of garden space. What can I expect to save for my family?
I did a calculation of a “Produce Value Expectation” for a Fall/Winter Organic Garden, using a standard (4X8) plot. I then used prices similar to what I have seen for Whole Foods/Central Market Organic Produce.
Anticipated Crop Harvested by Christmas (4X8 plot):
Arugula: 5 lbs X $5/lb = $25
Green Beans: 4 lbs X $5/lb = $20
Broccoli (4 plants) 10 lbs X $4/lb = $40
Peas: 2 lbs X $6= $12
Cucumber: 7 lbs X $3/lb = $21
Mesclun Leaf Lettuce: 5 lbs X $5/lb = $25
Spinach: 4 lbs X $5/lb= $20
Beets (greens and beets) 2 lbs Greens X $2/lb = $4 4 lb beets X $5/lb + $20 total =$24
Kale: 10 lbs X $3/lb = $30
Swiss Chard: 5 lbs X $3/lb = $15
Carrots: 2 lbs X $2 = $4
Radish = 5 lbs X $2/lb = $10
$242 by Christmas
An easy calculation would show that in my families 650 square foot of space, I could grow almost $5000 worth of produce, using this formula! Realistically, I will probably use space to grow less costly foods like carrots and green beans, so even if our family saved half of that price, I would be thrilled. Honestly, much of that space still has healthy tomato and pepper plants that I have nursed through the summer and am hoping for a huge fall bounty. Okra will go crazy in its space until the first freeze too. Have you seen the prices for organic tomatoes and peppers?! Maybe I will see a value around $5000!
Radish, beets and carrots can be replanted as they are harvested and greens can be cut and harvested again and again and with adequate care will last though the Winter Season. Lettuce will last until the first major freeze, and even then can often be covered to extend their useful season. I spent some time looking at using a 4 X 8 plot for a total year in Texas and feel sure that, depending on what you plant, the weather and your care, a Total Yearly Produce Value on a 4X8 Organic Vegetable Garden Plot could easily equal somewhere between $1365-$2275. The seeds, plants and additional amendments for this plot, once established shouldn’t be that much of a burden, especially if you compost and worm compost to add to your bed.
Texas Worm Ranch installs organic vegetable gardens, complete with planting and ongoing email and Facebook help. A standard garden’s price is $700, fully installed. What other investment gives you a Return on Investment of 95% —225% in the first year alone? With only the cost of plants, seeds, amendments and water from there forward, you will be enjoying safe, nutritious, chemical free, tasty and affordable produce for a lifetime. Hope you laugh all the way to the bank!