Amy the local bees' wax candlemaker's son Max helping
weed at our first community garden area several years ago.
To me, eggs are kind of the bonus for having chickens as more or less pets. Can't say that about most pets now can ya? They are educational, too. How many a previously scared of birds child (or adult), has pet one of my roosters? Whereas the chickens most assuredly are part of the overall farm business, I suppose if I turned the egg laying part into more of a business and tracked those expenses it may cause me to bump the price up as I calculated how much square footage they take up and how much that space actually costs, etc. Maybe I'll start setting aside what I get for the eggs to put towards new electric chicken fencing to keep them all on my property so I don't get a ticket for stray chickens - and that will mean even more eggs for us as they won't lay them all over the neighborhood! Hmmm, something to ponder....
Heading this farm in the direction of a "closed-loop" system will eventually mean less inputs from outside sources, too. So, in the future, as those costs of ammendments rise, I hope to be able to hold down the cost of our shares and the food we sell at the market day tables, because we won't need as much of them to grow our farm's food with. (That is unless our taxes all go through the roof to pay for the things our government invents for us to pay for. And then we may all just have to live out here on the farm to save money!)
I don't mean to "cheapen" its value. NOT AT ALL! This food is priceless when it comes to your health, the relationships we are building through the farm and the taste....oh don't get me started on the fresh taste! But I do look for ways to keep my expenses down, diversify the farm's resources and make this food available here in this community, or a short drive away. I believe that is how local food should work. I don't want organic/fresh/local to be a gourmet priced only type thing. We may grow specialty foods for chefs at some point or there may be a shortage of something one year that causes the good ol' "supply and demand" theory to kick in. But I am working very hard to make Eden's a paradise for all those who seek it.
Don't get me wrong, it is not cheap to have a 14 acre piece of land inside of city limits paying for 2 school districts' taxes and all of the "amenities" of living in a large metropolitan county. So yes, all of those incidental expenses must be covered of course. And yes, most of the mainstream food is subsidized by our taxes in the way of the "farm bill" that gets passed every year or so. I thought about grant money, but then decided I didn't want to be at the government's beck and call or be told what I could or couldn't do on my farm. (we already face that fear if the looming "food safety" bill S510 passes the Senate.)
But as more people jump on board, the costs will even out, the farm will get healthier and risks will even out more and more and as the production rises, I suspect I'll have some of you hollering "UNCLE!" on the food distributions and everyone will feel they've made a more than wise investment in this farm. That is my goal anyway - we have to keep hoping the weather will cooperate sooner than later!
Don't forget that in March we're helping sponsor "Farm Day" in Balch Springs. I'm looking for helpers/volunteers to over see the chicken petting/feeding area, answer questions about local food and our farm/CSA, see that kids don't eat too much of the potting soil at the FOFA potting station and oh, you get to watch the movie FRESH! with us for free and be entertained by Ms. Petunia Hopper and Kevin Davin Fine's Mission of Nutrition series.
Eat Your Food - Naturally!