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In his president’s report last year, Travis wrote:

This upcoming year we need to streamline the distribution process of our produce. On a day to day harvest schedule we do fine, but when we have thousands of pounds of produce (think Corn or Potatoes this year) I think we need to have a common understanding how large yields should be distributed and to whom. The better understanding we all have up front the few misunderstandings we will have when the forks hit the hills. 

Since we have a bit of breathing time now that everything is in the ground, are there a few of you who are interested in brainstorming some distribution principles that we could present to the group for feedback?

Anyone have examples from other communal groups on how they handle this “problem” of plenty?

Reply here or to me at vickybe@mac.com

Vicky

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9 Responses to Thinking Ahead to Distribution

  1. taramccallen says:

    Well the first problem is that some of us can only come once or twice a month and then when it comes to harvest time, it is either before or after we can attend. I have noticed a lot more people out this year then last and will definitely help with the work however the distribution may vary. I myself only got 4 cobs of corn and 20 potatoes because I was working when the big harvest happened, then the next thing I saw it was all donated. I think there needs to be a sign up sheet of how many people are in your family and how much would be enough to feed them, that attends for the majority of the season. I am only talking about the big harvests, last year there was so much squash and beets and bok choy that went to waste I was shocked. I know we did the canning session, again I was working ( I work evenings and weekends) and a lot was distributed there, however did each family get what they thought they should? Again if we have a sign up sheet that says I have 4 people in my family, (that family normally buys a 20 pound bag of potatoes once a month) and our goal is to feed each family during the off season, then in theory that family should get about 80 pounds, depending on if they can store the produce properly. A bigger question to ask is how many of there is us that will be harvesting? We are doing this to feed ourselves after harvest, but there always seems to be more people around harvest time.This is not really an answer to the question…. just ideas on the subject, but those are some thoughts.Tara

  2. boordle says:

    I agree with Tara, and I must admit that I find it a bit alarming to read that “there always seem to be more people around at harvest time”. Seems to me that the best we can do is to communicate promptly, here on this site and by Email, whenever things are ready to be harvested. There is no substitute for dropping by the farm and seeing for oneself, but I realize that not everyone lives within a handy distance of the garden and can find the time to drop by every few days.As for the things that may be vastly oversupplied (like corn and tomatoes, and by the sounds of it beets and bok choy):Let’s assume that, come harvest time, there is a glut of certain items, as happened last year. Enough of a glut that even if all families of all EOGG participants took their fill and crammed their larders, there was still a substantial surplus. Would it not be worthwhile to contact, right away, a certain number of potential groups to whom we know that we would like to donate parts of that surplus, and ask those groups, well ahead of time, how much produce they can realistically handle? It’s no good giving hundreds of pounds of corn to some group that will only store it unused until it goes bad. For example, the plan could be that charity XYZ (say the food bank) will get 250 pounds of potatoes, assuming we have that much in surplus. If there are any left after that, charity ABC (Green and Gold maybe; I’m just picking a name at random) gets 150 pounds, etc …Whatever is left after that, we can use in our own EOGG version of Tomatina (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tomatina ). Since we’d be throwing such things as potatoes, corn, and beets at one another, we might do well to let them rot a bit first.Chris

  3. boordle says:

    I agree with <st1:place>Tara</st1:place>’s comments. I am a bit alarmed to read that the number of people showing up seems to increase noticeably at harvest time (assuming I understood that part correctly). Ideally, you should get out at harvest time roughly in proportion to the effort you have put in, but it would be impossible to monitor such a thing and I’m sure we don’t want to instill that sort of atmosphere. <o:p></o:p> For surpluses greater than we can absorb even once all EOGG members and their families have taken as much as they can store/consume/preserve/ferment, I would suggest that we contact, in advance, a number of “favorite” groups (the food bank, the Mustard Seed, etc …) and get an estimate from them, well ahead of time, regarding how much produce they can realistically handle. It is no better to have it rot at the food bank than to have it rot at EOGG. <o:p></o:p> Whatever might be left over after all groups/charities have taken what they can, we could use in our own version of La Tomatina. However, since it would likely be potatoes, corn, and beets that we’d be chucking at each other as opposed to tomatoes, we might want to let them soften up over the winter. Ours would be a spring Tomatina.<o:p></o:p> Chris Knaack<o:p></o:p>

  4. eogg says:

    Ok, sifting through the emails:Edmonton Food Bank130 kg of corn30 kg of squash88kg of Potatoes and Chard60 Kg of Joi ChoiMustard Seed Bank20 Heads of Green CabbageMeals on Wheels18 kilos Pac ChoiYouth Emergency Shelter55 Kg Summer Squash8 Kilos Swiss ChardDyle would know Ronald McDonald House and Campus Food Bank Quantities.

  5. boordle says:

    Sounds like what we need is a charter rather than a chart. But never mind. Assuming that everyone who comes, especially at harvest time, is operating in good faith, not deliberately hoarding, maybe what is needed is more and better (and more timely) communication. Such broadcasted messages as “In one more week the bok choy will be ready; come in a week or get no bok choy” (that one would be for people partial to bok choy).<o:p></o:p>

  6. rainaraina says:

    I think it’s important to donate some of the harvest, especially when it’s required in order to keep our funding form various sources. The idea is, you join the group for the benefit of the community. So if you don’t want to donate anything, you can’t expect anyone to donate to us! Our members don’t only work hard in the garden every year, some members work hard with groups in Edmonton to secure funding to buy seeds, equipment, etc. No funding, no garden.Raina

  7. Elvira Falconer says:

       i would like to suggest a meeting on Saturday at the farm so that we can all discuss these issues and concerns. I do agree that we should plan ahead of time as far as distributing our abundance however i do not agree that it should be done on the EOGG post.       Part of our being a guild means that we are not for profit, which means we give to various charities, we teach and invite interested peoples (ie.school groups) to come and see what we are doing and learn, we hope in return that we pass the love of farming and inspire others to become green thumbs.       We all work very hard and come when we are available,  there are a few of us who come twice a week, and sometimes 5 times a week, and without these people the farm would not prosper as it does, the farm does not yield its abundance on its own, it requires a lot of time, effort and energy, but we do it because we love it.  It has never been mandated how many times a week you need to come to the farm nor how many hours, and we do not wish to operate this way, however  do consider the amount of time and energy that really does go into this farm to make it so successful.    When it comes to harvesting you do need to come to the farm, we cannot store items, nor can we leave some of the harvest to go bad.  I agree that there are some things that we can do better,specifically the distribution of crops that do not yield in abundance, and ensuring everyone gets some of these limited yields, ie onions, pumpkins,  but realistically you have to be there, when the produce is ready to be picked it needs to be picked. I also recommend our members to post recipes that they really enjoy in the RECIPE section of our EOGG site so that other members might have an idea of what to do with the crops we do yield in abundance, ie summer squash, beans, kale, beats carrots, chard.  Remember it can all be frozen, but like managing a farm it will require some work and effort on your part.   Unfortunately a farm is not like a grocery store when you can come any day and pick up a bundle of carrots, a bag of peas,etc.  you have to take it  when it is ready and harvested.  If you know you will not be able to make it for something being harvested ( so that we can replant or put the land to bed) for example corn, contact Travis or one of the regulars and ask them to put some aside for you, and make arrangements to pick it up.  Communication can certainly alleviate these inconsistencies.  Also we encourage you to expand your repertoire as to what we eat on our table, be a little more adventurous, i certainly have been : D So lets have a discussion in person at the farm this Saturday and hear some alternatives as to how we can become an even better farm : DBut all in all it is your responsibility to help the farm prosper and harvest what you sow.   The Edmonton Organic Growers Guild (EOGG) love to grow stuff together.We grow organic produce and encourage learning and eating. We charge no fees and welcome folks from all walks of life.if you haven’thelped totill it, seed it,weed it, water it,tend it, and loved it, then please don’tharvest it.Thank you, Elvira : D

  8. boordle says:

    Elvira<o:p></o:p> I agree with what you’ve written; there is no substitute for showing up. My only concern is that any meeting we might have on a Saturday in late June is very likely to be attended only by PWW (People Willing to Weed), and I think that most such people are satisfied with the current structure. We may not get sufficient representation on the part of people wanting to suggest changes to the current structure.<o:p></o:p> Chris <o:p></o:p>

  9. brendaj1 says:

    Hi everyone,I’m Brenda, a new member this year. I’ve met some of you but not all. I wasn’t able to get to the garden until late in the afternoon yesterday so missed any discussion that might have happened. I know it’s summer and everyone’s busy, but perhaps we could meet on a non-garden day?Like Tara, I’m not always able to come or to stay all day when I do come, but I try to get out as much as I can and work hard when I’m there. I’m very new to gardening, so thanks to the experienced gardeners for your patience and help. Also, as Elvira mentioned, I know there is a core group of very dedicated people who are there up to 5 days a week and without their dedication, the garden wouldn’t be the success that it is. I am grateful to be a small part of such a group.I agree with everyone’s comments, in terms of prioritizing harvest, communicating harvest times/availability for limited items such as squash, etc., and donating to the community. I also agree with continuing in the spirit of not policing people. Those of us who don’t get there every week know we can’t take 100 lbs of produce.Another idea leading up to harvest would perhaps be to communicate the expectations around harvest time as well as any harvest “rules” new members should know. As someone new to gardening, there are many things I don’t even know how to harvest, and I certainly don’t want to do the wrong thing. I look forward to meeting more of you and discussing this “hot” topic at an upcoming meeting.All the best,Brenda

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