Taking Notes

Had to get a kitchen scale at Panhandlers Kitchen Supply today because my lettuce is ready for the eating and I want to document my harvest.
Bought a kitchen scale today.  For the past two+ years I've been in business, folks have asked me, "But how much can I expect to grow in such-and-such a garden?"  I've answered with my own experiences, with rough estimates of numbers of heads of lettuce, harvests of collard greens, ranges of anticipated production rates of tomato plants.  Finally, I'm going to document what I grow in my own garden, pound by pound, ounce by ounce.  I've got the space equivalent of (5) 4x4 raised beds, so I'll have five replicates to share and some averages for the cool season come March/April.  Then I'll document spring season.

Meanwhile, the work of the food movement to develop resilient community-based food systems is all the more important: Received the note below from Second Harvest of the Big Bend mentioning that they are to receive 10s of 1000s of pounds less food from the USDA each month that was historically distributed to shelters, church food pantries and the like. What this means is more empty bellies and food-preoccupied minds at work, in school, walking the street, and laying in bed at night.

This summer, we saw a  drastic cut in USDA Commodities; government surplus food provided by the Florida Department of Agriculture. This program accounted for 2 million pounds (36%) of our annual distribution last year with an average of 173,000 distributed each month.  In July and August of 2011, we distributed an average of 96,000 pounds a month of Commodities, a decrease of 55 percent. The decline of  Commodities will continue and all indications are that the Commodity program will see cuts in federal funding in 2012, further reducing the amount of food received through this program. The bottom line, the amount of USDA food available will not get better - this is our new reality.

To augment the sudden reduction in USDA food, we are working aggressively to secure food from national and local sources.  Immediately, you will see an increase in the amount of purchase product.  Our staff will continue to seek additional sources for donated items through the network and various other sources.  It is important to note that this USDA reduction is being felt across the nation and has strained the food supply nationally.

We appreciate your patience as we work to resolve, as best we can, the current food shortage. It will not be an overnight fix.  There are no easy solutions.  Together we have weathered storms like this before and this storm too shall pass.

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On an entirely different note, food service company Bon Appetit has developed a comprehensive food-service-compatible college garden road map.  Cool.

Also worthy of note: "Restaurant Farms a Boon to New Farmers" - post in CivilEats.com - Cool Concept.  I think I'm going to have to pitch the idea to some local restaurants.