So, just how much food can you grow on 1/8th acre???
This weekend we decided to be done for the season. We still have produce in the ground, and we plan to harvest what we can and have given away some veggies to family, friends and loyal customers, but we are also tired and ready to move into planning mode for next season. We learned a ton about what it takes to be urban farmers and just how much could be grown on less than 5,000 sq. ft. Actually, our calculations are going to be slightly off since we didn’t account for all the food we enjoyed (and continue to enjoy) throughout the season. Here’s a brief snapshot…
Sales goal: $5,000
Actual: $4,637 (if you extrapolate this out to cover a one acre plot, the income potential is about $42,000….totally unscientific, but interesting nonetheless)
So, you may be wondering how could two people afford to live on that? This income represents what we earned working part-time (about 20 hours/week) on the farm. We both work full-time right now, but the plan is to eventually farm full-time. Of course, the amount of money we can earn farming will likely pale in comparison to what our day jobs bring in. We intend to significantly scale back our lives, grow our own food and supply our own sustenance through the food we produce.
Where we sold (in order of sales volume)
- Lakewood Farmers Market: 14 Saturdays (about 50% of sales)
- Restaurants and CSA programs: Fat Cats, Bar Cento, The Root Cafe, Farm Share (30%)
- Friends CSA: 26 weeks of pick-ups (20%)
- Lettuce – 18% of sales
- Arugula – 15%
- Radishes – 13%
The above are the quick cycle, high margin crops, so this outcome is not too surprising. However, given the summer heat, we did end up composting a few beds of lettuce, so this figure could have been a bit higher had we been able to sell everything we grew.
Plans for next year
We are eagerly looking forward to next season (after some much needed rest!). Part of the goal this season was to determine whether we want to continue down this path towards being full-time farmers. We are encouraged by what we were able to accomplish this season and intend to continue, hopefully with additional growing space next year. Collaborating with other area farmers has been great for our learning curve and also motivating. Those who are working to transform vacant city lots into thriving agricultural landscapes have a beautiful vision of growing real food for local people. We are happy to be among this group. While we have much to learn, we are hopeful that this trend towards homegrown will lead to healthier and more vibrant communities. Based on our experience, demand outweighs supply, so there is a need for more farmers. Know your farmer, know your food….