The Dollars and Non-Cents of Farming
Favorite things overheard recently:
One early spring day one of our neighbors who was out walking her dogs and talking on the phone saw us at work in our garden and said to the person on the other end of the line, “Looks like the farmers market people are out working again.” And more recently, our mailman who seemed impressed with the gardens wanted to know if we sold our vegetables at Whole Foods.
Deep down, I think we’re somewhat honored to be taken so seriously that we could be mistaken for professional farmers. But we also laugh heartily at the notion that we are producing enough on our 1/10 acre plot to have enough to sell. We are amazed at how much time and effort go into growing what we do, yet what we are able to provide for ourselves is a pitiful fraction of what we buy from the “real farmers”. As much as we like to think we’re being self sufficient, we unfortunately have a LONG way to go.
But the conversation with our neighbors and our march toward farm school (and beyond) has us thinking more concretely about the economics of farming. So we thought it would be fun to keep an ongoing database of all that we harvest this year, price it according to the going rates we’re seeing at our farmers markets and see how we come out at the end of the season.
We already have $97 in seed costs this year (not including the perennials – asparagus, strawberries and blackberries) $76 dollars in potting materials, and $276 in a fancy new grow light, so we already have quite a hole to climb out of. There are of course other costs of our current operation which are harder to quantify: watering costs, electricity for the grow light, soil amendments and chicken feed.
|Basil (Genovese)||25 bunches||$2/bunch||$50|
|Tomatoes (Black from Tula/Hillbilly Potato Leaf)||30 lbs.||$3/lb||$90|
|Swiss Chard (Fordhook Giant and Rhubarb Red)||25 bunches||$3/bunch||$75|
|Kale (Lacinato and Dwarf Blue)|
|Summer Squash (Sure Thing Zucchini and Gourmet Gold)||25 lbs.||$2/lb.||$50|
|Winter Squash (Gourd Mixture)||12 lbs.||$2/lb||$24|
|Corriander Seed||1 lb.||$20/lb.||$20|
|Beets (Detroit Dark Red and Burpee Golden)||3 lbs.||$3/lb.||$9|
|Spinach (Harmony Hybrid)||5 bunches||3/bunch||$15|
|Carrots (Danvers and Dragon)||1 bunch||$3/bunch||$3|
|Onions (Red Wethersfield)||5 lbs.||$2/lb.||$10|
|Leeks (Giant Musselburgh)||3 lbs.||$3/lb.||$9|
|Corn (2 inch Strawberry Popcorn)|
|Lettuce (Flame and Yugoslavian Red)||8 heads||$3/head||$24|
|Whole Chickens||4 birds||$18/bird||$72|
|Eggplant (Casper and Florida High Bush)||7 lbs.||$3/lb.||$21|
|Bell Peppers (Buran)||2 lbs.||$6/lb.||$12|