I just finished reading this fun article in Organic Gardening magazine about a woman (Sharon Tregaskis) who had just bought a run down farm in Upper NY. She made it her goal to feed her family of two for the whole season for $75.
What struck me was how Sharon used Craigslist (I think Kijiji is more common in these parts) to find unwanted perennials from people thinning and re-landscaping their gardens, free mulch, and even 15 cubic yards of free horse manure. She also traded extra hay to a neighbouring farm for credit at their farm stand.
In another unique arrangement, Sharon provided a friend with a growing plot on her land. In exchange, the friend secured the largest rototiller available for rent and they all benefitted.
Sharon was also very skilled in exchanging her time/labour. In one instance, she participated in an organic farm work party, planting 20,000 crowns of asparagus, and in return received 20 crowns for her own farm. Later she volunteered for another farmer, transplanting tomatoes in return for gooseberries and choice of mature seedlings. Beside these smaller “deals”, the writer also volunteered at another farm for a full CSA share of veggies.
Over the season, Sharon also enlisted her own friends and family for different work parties at her farm – and fun was a key objective in enticing people to come out (and good food, of course).
In the en, she and her partner didn’t buy veggies for over six months and spent a total of $74.74 for their farm/food budget. This year, she’s striving for $25.
So, I did a search on kijiji for Moncton and Halifax and I couldn’t find anything! No organic food for sale, no “help wanted” for farms, or offers to swap labour for food. No one asking for extra perennials or unwanted shrubs. Nothing!
I think there’s a real opportunity to use on-line marketing/classifieds to get labour (paid or in exchange for food/training), sell extra seeds/ and seedlings, find unwanted manure etc. It’s so easy to do too, and there’s no cost to try it out (let me know if you have any luck with it too).