Saturday, February 20, 2010

Why We Do What We Do

Some of my pets, who happen to leave good food around for me to share.

Recently, someone lovingly told me I was cheating myself on the price I ask for my chicken eggs. She said mine were organic-er and fresher than Costco, yet I was charging less than they were. Well, I thought to myself, maybe I am cheaper, but then, I also am not a big store with huge overhead and a staff of hundreds to pay. No middleman either. It doesn't cost me anything to pick them up as I walk through the barn on my way up to the house, and thank heaven's I'm not doing the hard part - the laying of the eggs! No, I thought, I think I'll keep them at the price they are. I think they are already twice what "regular" eggs are at the grocery store!

Amy the local bees' wax candlemaker's son Max helping

weed at our first community garden area several years ago.

Part of my mission here, is to try to make this good stuff accessible and affordable for folks so they will be more likely to eat it. I don't really try to run an egg layer business so that means, on the down side, we only get eggs as we find them, (we don't have a huge supply of them because these girls are not very consistent all of the time about their favorite places to lay eggs), and these chickens eat mostly a diet of whatever chickens eat on their own, (you don't want to know), so sometimes they may not lay as abundantly as those fed a constant diet of "laying mash". But on the up side, it keeps the cost down cuz I'm not constantly having to buy 50lb bags of organic feed just for them to survive and lay eggs, I don't spend time on paperwork figuring out how many eggs per flock or whatever tracking an egg farmer does and our eggs are probably chocked full of omega 3's since most of their diet isn't laying mash, so I can eat about as many as I want and not worry about cholesterol.

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!)
Again, making our farm food more affordable so anyone who truly desires this food, this beautiful, nutritionally dense grown with TLC food - can afford it.

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.

Anne "Kip" Rogers teaching some ladies
the value and simplicity of a healthy
eating lifestyle at a free class in 09.

And of course, that is part of why we have work shares, a community garden area as well as the various classes, too. I want to help empower people to find ways to live healthier lives by eating better food than they can find elsewhere and teach them how to use it, too. A fresh head of broccoli doesn't do anyone any good if no one knows how to prepare it. Zucchini will get old fast if you only know one way to use it and it would be a shame for home grown tomatoes to not be enjoyed all winter long because someone didn't know how to preserve them. (Watch for canning classes this summer!)

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!

The ground breaking crew for Eden's Community Gardens - Home Depot of Balch Springs helped in a big way

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.

March 17th - noon to 5 at the Library on Elam Rd. More details as they firm up.

Eat Your Food - Naturally!

1 comment:

  1. Wow I loved your post. I salute you.
    I to have a homestead and love it. Their is nothing better than being self-sufficient.Stop by and visit. Thank You your post was so great


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