This year we asked some of our community gardeners to volunteer to track their harvest. We wanted to get a sense of what the average $ value of produce that people were getting from their plots. We have 185 plots on the farm, that take up about 1 acre of land use. How much food is being produced in this space? What is the value of this land use?
24 people responded, out of 185, which is 13%. All of the plots are four feet wide by twelve feet long. We asked volunteers to record everything they harvested from their plots, in weight and/or value. We referenced these quantities with a standard price list, based on our wholesale vegetable price list, cross-referenced with a national price tracking website.
The smallest harvest value reported was $40. The highest harvest value reported was $493 (congradulations Brenda McGilvray), with the second highest reported at $483 (congradulations Beth Lachance). Pro tip: garlic, basil and cherry tomatoes are high-value, high-production crops.
According to this data, the mean plot production is $154 per plot (with a standard deviation of 116). If all 185 plots produced this amount, the annual production from this acre of land is $28,500.
If every plot could yield the highest value ($493/year) the annual production from this acre of urban land would be $91,000. (This is close to the reported yields from some of the more profitable farmers out there, such a Jean-Martin Fortier, who reports earnings of $100,000 per acre).
Also worth noting is the comments about the non-monetary value of their gardening season:
“I value this at priceless…”
“and a lot of fun doing it… therapy for the soul.”
“Therapeutic value? Priceless”
“Karyn and I would also like to admit that we incurred a minimal cost for rent and seeds, and needed to give only a few hours of labour to grow and harvest our crop. In other words, we enjoyed essentially cost-free produce while profiting from recreation and social activity at the Farm.”
This is supported by research that defines the non-material values of gardening as:
- Physical activity that promotes longer and healthier lives and decrease risks of chronic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and hypertension
- Nutritious food source that is organic, non-GMO, with no toxic sprays
- Relaxation with positive psychological benefits (stress reduction)
- Connection through bringing communities together
- Involvement of children that positively shapes the children’s eating and lifestyle habits
- Environmental benefits through reducing greenhouse gas emissions related to transportation of food
So, good work gardeners. No matter how we measure it, we’re creating really positive value for ourselves and our communities. Good work everyone! Special thanks to everyone who took the time to record their harvest.