I filmed this video about Whisper Farms in suburban Pasadena, California. It’s an ordinary home that’s been pressed in to service as a for-profit market garden. My friend Kirsten Dirksen was kind enough to edit it in conjunction with her website www.faircompanies.com
This sort of small scale local food production is generally ignored or labelled as irrelevant. It isn’t “agriculture.” It isn’t…. anything. It’s just eccentric hobbyists who like to play farmer. But I disagree.
When we look at the challenges of feeding more people with fewer resources, this kind of distributed hyper-local production makes tremendous sense. Most North Americans live in suburbs. Most suburbs have substantial amounts of sunny land right next to where people live. There’s already water being used to grow ornamental landscapes. Lawns are the largest single crop in the country. Growing food instead makes sense, particularly if different people specialize in different crops.
Producing food in this manner eliminates the costs associated with transporting food from remote farms to population centers. Cities themselves are a rich source of waste materials that can be turned to organic feedstocks for agricultural production and soil amendments. Provisional labor is abundant. So are local paying customers.
No one is suggesting that a California mortgage can be paid by selling lettuce at the farmers market. But most “real” farms are dependent on non-farm income from a family member who works in town as well. Suburban market gardens aren’t much different. This is one piece of a larger set of responses to how to work around concentrated industrial agribusiness.
[Originally published on the blog Granola Shotgun]
davidw saysMay 12, 2016 at 4:06 pm
> Producing food in this manner eliminates the costs associated with transporting food from remote farms to population centers.
I’m skeptical that this is a major factor in food prices. I seem to recall Tim Harford covering something like this in one of his books…
My guess is that the key to competing with a ‘big agribusiness’ is quality and variety.
Gene Callahan saysMay 13, 2016 at 1:33 am
Gene Callahan saysMay 13, 2016 at 1:35 am
“I’m skeptical that this is a major factor in food prices.”
But it certainly is a factor! And the USDA says a significant one:
“Results of the study indicate that transportation costs signi cantly increase the costs of marketing these produce items and therefore their wholesale price.”