Monday, February 10, 2014

Little Ag vs. Big Ag -- which one grows the most food?

From Wyoming Public Media:
In collaboration with the University of Wyoming, a local food advocacy group conducted a study to find out just how many vegetables a backyard garden in Wyoming can produce.  The project is called Team G.R.O.W., or Gardening Research of Wyoming.

Gayle Woodsum is the founder of Feeding Laramie Valley, the group sponsoring the research. She says the idea behind the study was simple. “So these were gardeners who said, yeah, we’d like to know, really, how much are we producing.  And what value does that have in terms of numbers.  But what they did is they weighed every pea, every bean, every leaf of lettuce that came out of that garden for the entire season.”

The 22 gardeners in the study raised 4,500 pounds of vegetables on a little over a quarter of land.  Woodsum says the results show the harvest was as good as those reported by large-scale factory farms.  The study was funded by a $5-million USDA grant.

Woodsum hopes the results will help the group with future efforts to show policy makers why community garden projects should be supported and encouraged the same way large-scale farms are.

BTW, I think that third paragraph was supposed to read "a quarter acre of land." A "quarter of land" doesn't make sense.

How much square footage is a quarter acre of land? 10,890. Divide that by 4,500 and you get 2.42 pounds of food per square foot. I guess that's possible. I've been able to grow a couple pounds worth of tomatoes from one plant. Then there's zucchini. Your average gardener (and I'm pretty average) can grow about 5,000 pounds of zucchini on one plant, give or take.

I guess the big question is this: How much funding in the recently passed Farm Bill goes to big ag and how much goes to gardeners?


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