Thursday, June 23, 2011

Saving Money on Fruits and Vegetables

This blog is read by a variety of people world wide. Both urban and rural. So how to write about saving money on veggies and things when we get them so differently? I'll just cover both topics because let's face it...even farmers in Canada like oranges and bananas and there's no hope of growing either.

Urban shopping is nearly always limited to 2 sources for produce, supermarket or farmers market. And the prices at a farmers market can be expensive. While I think the quality and whole system is better with buying direct from a farmer it just doesn't work for some people. So how do you save money on store bought produce? I know you're thinking "but I already check out the flyers and shop sales" but what about buying in bulk? No hear me out...I'm not talking about buying 40lbs of bananas and then having to either eat them all or be left with a gooey mess in the box. While our family can eat that many bananas and we often shopped at the wholesalers by ourselves, it doesn't work for most people. A much better way of doing this is to get together with a few families and friends and split things up. So if a case of bananas is $20. And you split them between 3 families and lets say 2 couples, each group would end up with a percentage of the box and a percentage of the bill. Maybe families get 25% each and the couples get 12.5% each. Can you eat 10 lbs of bananas? 5 lbs? So long as you agree and it's fair, you can work it out any way you like. We used to sell produce shares based either on a half or full share and then the entire crop for the week was just divided up accordingly. People then get what they pay for.

How can this work for you? Almost all wholesalers will sell to individuals, did you know that? The proviso is that you often have to pick it up, order a minimum quantity, and buy full cases. A local wholesaler here on Vancouver Island will sell you a minimum order of $150 but deliver it. Sound like a lot of fruit and veggies? It can be but of course if you divide it up suddenly it's much more manageable. And it's almost a festive air when you get together to divide up the spoils or pick up your shares.
I would recommend that someone be in charge of both picking things up and dividing them too. Then all everyone else has to do is pick up. You can make this as regulated or relaxed as works for you.

And this works very well for people who like to do canning or making jam because you can order extra cases of what you want over and above your regular veggies. Fruits in season can sometimes be picked up very cheaply indeed if the wholesaler gets over stocked.

The drawbacks....not everyone likes the same veggies (I HATE celery). One person does more work than the rest and has to be compensated somehow. You will get a little bit of spoiled or bruised produce occasionally and need something to do with it like compost or feed to the chickens. money, try new veggies, share recipes within your group, eat more seasonal vegetables, share something great with your community.

SO....Rural Veggies

Grow Your Own!! Jeepers, how hard is it to plant some peas? Ok, Ok, I know that even we don't grow everything we want. We still get things wholesale but it's less of a regular thing. And we stick to what we're good at and then trade with our neighbours for the other stuff we want. Right now we obviously have no produce and it's driving me a bit nuts actually. So we are going to trade some wheat for rhubarb. Something we already have extra of...for something we want. Same goes for meats. If you raise pigs, farm B raises chickens and farm X raises cows, why not come to a deal and share your meat. There is something great about trading too...the sense of community and reliance is enhanced and you'll be a much happier farmer.

A way to sell your crops reliably is to sell shares in your garden. It's called Community Supported Agriculture. I've written about it before and there's a lot of info available on the web, but the basic principle is that you plan and successively plant enough vegetables to have a weekly harvest of a certain size. You divide each weeks harvest up between share holders. You get the customers for your crops and the money upfront, they get produce, everyone's happy.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Elizabeth! Good news! we sold out house (pending subject too's) and will be moving to the comox valley in the next 2 months! hopefully in time to have a garden ready for planting! anyways, can you pass on some more info on vancouver island wholesalers? i will finally have enought space to keep a proper pantry, and keep all my canning in the SAME place in stead of stashed all over the place! cheers!