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Thursday, January 14, 2010

So I had an idea..... 

A while ago I saw a BBC show with Monty Don travelling the globe looking at gardens around the world. He visited Cuba to look at the fantastic urban farms and community gardens there which are going a long way to helping feed the people of Havanna in a way they can afford.

Then I read a few things about the urban farmers and community gardeners in Detroit and Todmorton where wastland is being turned into gardens to feed the residents. I guess watching people like Hugh Fearnsley Wittingstall, epecially his landshare intitive and Carol Klien on tv and reading their books have helped too. Definately having our own garden helped immensley.

The problems with gardening are various. One, its hard work at least at the start and at peak times of the year too. Two, you either have too much stuff or not enough. Three, economies of scale come into it, bigger gardens are cheaper to run especially for things like compost etc. Four, you cant always be in your garden when you should be to water, plant or harvest. If you could share these problems it would be good. Trade time, resources and money for quality produce.

I got to thinking. What might work would be a sort of co-op. You sign up to the scheme and say you will donate x ammount of land, y ammount of time and z ammount of money. This is a sliding scale for all three. If you can donate enough of any of one out of three you get the others free. So people with a large enough ammount of land dont pay or spend time. If you have no land and put in enough time you would get the benefit with no other outlay. Simple cash donation get rewards too in the form of the produce as in buying fruit and veg from a shop.

The intial investments of time, land and cash get put into a pool. Landowners get first pick of what gets grown on their land but have to accept that stuff will be grown that they don't necessarily want themselves. Cash gets spent buying tools, seeds and other materials. The land gets coverted into efficient fruit and veg plots by people volunteering their time. Things like compost, tools, seeds, transport etc can be done from a central location.

These then get maintained by the volunteers and harvested etc. Each landowner can take what they like from their own plot but only enough for themselves and their family etc. All surplus produce gets first redistributed amongst other people in the co-op so the people who are time rich get their free produce and the people who invest money get the produce they paid for. Anything left after that is sold on the open market. Profits are returned to the scheme for new tools, seeds etc.

The system has to be kept small in scale. The key to it is how much time is required to invest to get a unit of produce. In effect a wage for the volunteers. It has to be set at a level that encourages people to invest time and not money unless it soon becomes easier to go to the supermarket to get produce than through the scheme. There would have to be limits on the ammount of land, time and cash one person could put into the scheme though this may vary locally.

I guess to get this off the ground you would need to speak to someone with far more knowledge of economics than me. Then get some advertizing done. Then get digging.

Permanent link and Comments posted by Rob Cornelius @ Thursday, January 14, 2010

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