Harvesting Our Own Food for Health, Fun and Savings

by Darwin on June 1, 2010

This weekend, the family went strawberry picking at a local organic farm.  We also started a small garden last week at home.  While eating organic, local farming, home gardening, sustainable foot, etc. seem like trendy fads these days, we’ve been giving these ideas a try and we like the experience and the results.

How to Find Local Farms and Farmer’s Markets

Aside from word of mouth and local stories in your paper, there’s a great site for identifying local farms and farmer’s markets by location: LocalHarvest.org has the most user-friendly and in-depth data set I’ve come across.  I actually wish I’d started using it sooner rather than asking around and waiting to happen to pass a weekend farmer’s market before acting on it.

Strawberry Picking

We rounded up the kids (6,4,1) and off we went to a local farm.  The two older boys loved getting their baskets and running up and down the rows picking strawberries.  We had a rather obnoxious woman warn us that we were unlikely to find any good ones in the rows we were in since she doesn’t miss a strawberry and she’d already been there.  So, it was all the more rewarding to find some great plump, ripe strawberries throughout the morning.  In all, we probably spent an hour there.  My wife got some great pictures and I had the baby on my back so I got quite a leg workout bending down to pick with the extra 20 pounds (that’s after the 20 pounds I’ve put on since my glory days!).

After we’d filled our baskets up pretty well, we brought them to a stand where they weigh your baskets.  We ended up taking home about 11 pounds of strawberries at $3 per pound.  When I compared that with what we pay at a local grocery store, I initially chuckled to myself that we pay about that at the store but I provided the labor for free.  Then I considered that they’re organic and usually for for about $5-$6 per pound, so in that respect, it was a meaningful discount.

Others must have seen the value on a larger scale as well, because there were a few “hardcore pickers”.  Besides the bizarre encounter with the champion strawberry picker, we saw some other earthy-looking people with massive trays and buckets of strawberries, presumably bringing tens of pounds back to their commune or wherever they were headed.  But it wasn’t just families out for fun.

Once home, I couldn’t resist picking through the basket now and then throughout the day and my wife made a great strawberry shortcake last night.  We also got some tips on storing them, freezing them, making jam and other ideas.  So, they won’t go to waste, we saved some money, supported a local farm, and had fun while we were at it.

Home Gardening

Last week, I set up a small garden in the back yard with some simple vegetables.  I recall gardening with my dad as a kid and while I got some enjoyment out of it then, setting it up, planting and sharing the experience with my kids brought back memories.  That vegetable garden was actually my foray into entrepreneurship.  I had a stand out in front of the house and my dad used to let me keep the proceeds.

I’d put off starting a garden in the past primarily due to laziness.  After doing some basic research, we just walked into a Home Depot and snagged a side-wall garden box, some soil, some fencing, and set it up in the yard in a sunny spot.  In all, it only took about an hour to get set up and start planting a few things.

For this garden, we certainly aren’t saving any money this year.  The setup cost was well over a hundred bucks and we’ll probably get all of $50 in vegetables out of there, but it can be considered an initial investment with much lower operating costs in future years.  We ended up planting various peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, herbs and some other stuff.  It will also be nice for the kids to see where our food comes from.  Many kids these days have no idea where their food comes from, what it takes to grow something, what it costs, or what the health benefits are.  Might as well start teaching them while they’re young.

What Are Your Gardening Experiences and Resources?

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{ 1 trackback }

Yakezie Carnival @ Beating Broke
June 6, 2010 at 1:04 am

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sunglasses Al June 1, 2010 at 11:03 pm

Home gardening is the best. You get to choose, you get variety and you get to create.

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2 Budgeting in the Fun Stuff June 2, 2010 at 3:36 pm

I loved going to a local peach farm with my mom when I was a kid…we’d pick 5-10 pounds of peaches and make all kinds of yummy things for a week or two and freeze the extras for later…yum.

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3 Saving Money Today June 3, 2010 at 10:00 am

Great post! My kids love going apple picking in the fall, and I think I’m going to check out a local farm where they can pick strawberries and raspberries too.

Unfortunately we haven’t much luck growing our own food. Our yard is very shady and the few tomatoes we were able to grow were gobbled up by raccoons before we got any.

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4 uman1916 June 4, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Disclaimer: The website I listed is not mine nor am I associated with it in any way however… In relation to your post about gardening… Local food is the solution to so much more than people realize. 1) Food that travels thousands of miles to our table is vulnerable to many forces at work against it. What happens to our food supply when oil goes to $200/bbl and gas goes to $10/gallon? How much do you think that banana is going to cost, if it gets here at all, from over 1000 miles away?
What about all the fruits and veggies from California? Interruption of our food supply is not a matter of if but when! The problem is compounded royally by the Federal Reserve’s desire to inflate us out of a loaf of bread.

2) The recent pointless tinkering with healthcare reform should really be centered on PEAK SOIL. Our industrialized agriculture has stripped our soils of all its minerals. Commercial fertilizers that have for so long concentrated on N, P, and K that they have missed the entire boat on the other 100 trace minerals that are absolutely critical to vitality. Of course there are many reasons for obesity but what if the main reason we are all getting so fat is because our bodies keep telling us to eat more because the stuff going in has zero nutritional value? Disease thrives in acidity. Our fast food diets do nothing except provide acidity. The body has to be alkalized because the metabolic process is acidic by nature. Burning calories produces acidic waste and if all we put into our bodies is acidic in the first place well then its easy to see why disease is growing exponentially healthcare reform be damned. Wake up America. The government is not a third party, it’s us.

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5 Jake June 6, 2010 at 3:55 pm

This blog really helps me with a lot! Thanks for all of the information and keep up the good work!

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6 Make Cash Now June 16, 2010 at 2:21 am

I have been growing my own vegetables and fruit for a few years now and I just sat down this past week and figured out how much I actually saved and guess what. I actually made money because I sold some of my veggies and fruit so these few years I have made over $19,000. I recommend growing your own stuff.

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