I listened to Rawles’s interview and even if I like his blog, I think he’s too radical. I’d like to hear you and I sent an email to C2C as you asked.
I email you today to ask you about veggies during the economic crisis in your country. I’m working for an organic market gardener and I’m planning to run a small scale market garden in two or three years. I wonder what were the availability and prices of vegetables in post-2001 Argentina ? Are there CSA or box schemes ? Do people started to plant private gardens (that’s competition for the professionals indeed) ? Is there a strong market for seedlings (which would be a direct result of more people gardening their yard) ?
Regarding security and transportation, I suppose it would be wise to have my garden on the edge of a small town, so that I’m not isolated and I don’t have hundred miles to drive to sell my products. What’s your opinion ?
Your readers interested in market gardening should buy Eliot Coleman’s “The New Organic Grower”, it contains relevant informations for those who want to start such a business IMHO.
I read Don Williams’s comment about self-sufficient agriculture on the meat prices surge topic and I disagree about fertilizers being a problem. Before we mined phosphate rock, we had to make do with cow poo and other organic matter !! Crop rotation, greem manures, composting grazers’ poo : these are the solutions. And don’t forget humanure, because it’s the only way to fully close the nutrients cycle. China used it for thousand of years (it’s like gold in a way xD).
Another thing : you mentioned in your book the availability of game in the city. I can add rabbit to your list as I found some of them on the edge of a half-a-million souls’ city. I think they would be wiped out if the push come to the shove but it’s interesting thing to know.
Thanks for sending an email. Every single one helps and I’m sure I’ll eventually get a call. (I aslo so several new 5 star reviews in Amazon, so thanks a lot for that as well guys)
Prices went up consistently but that doesn’t mean gardening will make you rich.
Its usually due to prices in general going up, the middle man’s cost, transportation, rent, power and taxes for the grocery store going up as well, as well as everyone increasing their own profit margin trying to stay up to date with inflation.
The Hollywood survival theory says that you’ll grow your food, feed yourself and your family, and sell/trade what’s left for whatever products and services you need but don’t produce yourself.
Why, according to that logic, half of the poor in Latin America should be rich or at least well off since that’s what they do.
So, it doesn’t work that way in 3rd world countries or after a collapsed economy.
When I say it doesn’t work, I mean that you have several other much more profitable jobs and income generating activities that make small scale gardening for a living in most cases impractical. (there are exception and we’ll talk about that later)
First, its impossible to produce yourself everything you need for a balanced diet. As my buddy Nomad concluded after years of survival and preparedness research and some time in Emergency Response school “Money makes the world go around” , even after SHTF, I might add.
Again the Hollywood based theory says you’ll sell your beans and tomatoes for whatever you need, it’s a perfect plan!
I’ve even read some comments in forums ( and I’m pretty sure the posters did consider it a joke) say that they’ll trade one of their chickens for a bar of gold. Because that would be HIS price… after SHTF.
Today he would be just a fool for even suggesting such a trade, what on earth makes these people believe that will change with a worse or collapsed economy?
Unless you’re dealing with a guy with a bar of gold in a stranded island, that unrealistic.
Neither you nor I set the price of gold or anything else for that matter, the market does it. You can either accept it or customers will go somewhere else.
But then again, food, just like everything else is expensive when you have hyperinflation.
It was just last year or the year before, that tomato reached a world wide historic record in Argentina, a kilo of tomato cost about 4 dollars in grocery stores and supermarkets. The small producers thoughts they could just grow gold, but as soon as everyone got into tomatoes, the excess of production sent it back to normal prices, even below that. Damned tomatoes where everywhere.
The truth is that, while the price is inflated at the grocery, the guy actually growing and otherwise producing the food isn’t getting rich.
He gets a couple cents for what he does, he needs BULK, and that’s why the great majority of small producers are poor.
Poor as in they would be better of getting a regular job in town.
With the succession of economy crisis in Argentina that’s what most people ended up doing. Buenos Aires got overpopulated and many of the small towns in the country just died.
Another example, milk costs around one dollar if you want one that isn’t shamelessly cut with water. That’s around 3 pesos per liter. The producer? He gets paid 7 cents per liter, that’s pesos guys, so he gets 0,02 dollars per liter of milk produced. The inflation makes it expensive at the shelf. Go with a truck full of milk and sell it yourself? Good luck with that.
Argentine farmers protest in the province of Santa Fe during the the “Country Crisis”(Crisis del Campo)
Some people do sell vegetables on the streets or in market fairs. I don’t envy their lifestyle nor does anyone that has at least a minimum wage job.
What I mean by this is the following:
Please, understand I’ve got nothing against gardening, or hard working people, specially farmers which is such a honorable job. What I’m saying is that its only going to be harder to make money out of it, not easier as the couch survivalists that apparently didn’t bother to check their own country’s history seem to believe.
Now, for the good news, you do have options if you know how to market your products well, find several organic stores that may be willing to sell your products.
“Farm chicken” and “Farm butcher” are still pretty popular here and they usually have cheaper prices that supermarkets. That means people will buy. They offer these products supposedly free of all the junk found in the mass produced supermarket meats, but the price is the most attractive thing people notice.
You’ll either need: a) A store somewhere where there’s enough clients b) Store owners, groceries, butchers or organic food stores that may be interested.
If you market it well and the price is right you may do good money.
If you’re planning on getting involved in this type of activity, specially with hard economic times already here and getting worse, I’d tell you that without a doubt the mot important aspect of your business and the key for its survival will be the connections you have to offer your product and how well you market it. You have to be clever regarding doing business. Just producing a good product wont cut it.
Another tip, aim for clients with good income levels.
The poor guy will find a way to save as much money as he can. Even with inflated grocery prices, you still have places like Mercado Central where meat, milk, fruits and vegetables cost 5 to 10 times less.
Takes time, requires you to go to some dangerous parts of town but people do find away, so aim for the higher income client interested in “organic” “green” “pesticide free””100% natural” “ I read Hamlet to the chickens before cutting their heads off”.
The “CSA or box schemes” may work beautifully… if you know how to market it well and have the right clients.
Advertising is important, fliers in your target neighborhoods, maybe publicity in local radio, TV or papers, but so is connections, developing friendly business relations and word of mouth reputation spreading in your community.
Edible game does disappear pretty fast when things like these occur. Suddenly everyone feels like hunting instead of paying for burgers. It happened during the Great Depression and it happened here too, anything that can be eaten it hunted almost to extinction fast.