Sunday, May 1, 2011

Taking Stock II: 2011 Plans

Now that we are on the heels of asparagus season, it is time to start planning your 2011 MI food stash. We cooked with our 2010 food stash all winter. It significantly reduced our food costs – which was quite helpful during the holidays.

The first step is to assess your budget. How much extra food can you purchase during the summer knowing that you will save money later? If it is not much, you can start to put money away now so that in August and September you have some extra put aside.

It is NOT that local foods cost more in the summer. But, purchasing larger quantities of several foods does add up and will impact most budgets. The savings comes in the winter when you are not purchasing bell peppers for $4.00 per pound!

Ask yourself:
• Which are my favorite foods grown in Michigan?
• How do I use these foods: fresh, frozen, canned?
• What is my schedule like while they are in season?
• Do I have canning equipment? Extra freezer space? A dehydrator?
• If I don’t have equipment, do I know someone who will lend it to me?
• Do I know how to get started? What skills do I already have?
• Do I have the space to grow my own food?
• If not, do I want to join (or start) a Community Garden?
• Which foods do I want to start with?

Assess the answers to these questions and commit to putting aside some food for winter. Enjoy the process and take pride in your accomplishments. Maybe you want to preserve some foods to use as holiday gifts. Understand that you are contributing to not only the Michigan economy but also to preserving our land and culture.

I keep a journal through the growing season. It includes the dates that I purchase foods and how much I have preserved. It helps me to plan for the next season. I take a look in the spring to see what I have too much of and what I ran out of too early. It also helps me to understand when I need to spend time on certain food preservation tasks. I know that from Mid-August through Mid- September my weekends are quite busy.

I found some links to help you get started.

Find a Farmers Market
MSUE Stuck on Gardening
MSUE Plant and Grow Tips
Garden Centers
Building Integrated Food
Follow the MI Local Foodbeet on Facebook
American Community Garden Association

Links to Community Gardens around Michigan:

Ann Arbor, MI Community Gardens
Chelsea Community Gardens
Detroit Urban Agriculture and Community Garden Programs
Ferndale Good Neighbors Community Garden
Oak Park Good Neighbors Community Garden
From Plot To Plate: SE Michigan's Urban Gardens
West Michigan Community Gardens
Another Link to Community Gardens of West Michigan

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