Let’s start a food growers gang!

Let’s create a group. A gang. Let’s call it a gang because it sounds cooler…. a food production gang.  Making food, sharing it with each other.

The gang members wouldn’t have to share politics, you wouldn’t have to share religions, you wouldn’t have to share tastes in music. You would have to share mutual respect, and a reasonable amount of commitment, in order to share in producing food to benefit the gang. Everyone works a little bit to share a lot of food.

I like cooperating. Sesame Street sang songs about it, and my soft toddler brain became indoctrinated with muppet propaganda. I am now a full blown Sesamist.

But it also makes practical economic sense. With two people you get stuff done five times as fast as you would alone. And with 10 people you get stuff done 100 times as fast (I’m just making up numbers, it all depends on the task and how much you’ve been drinking).

And if all else fails, we’ll at least have some kick ass dinner parties.

Community Food Production Systems

From farmers markets, to community supported agriculture, to public vegetable gardens, to crop swaps, people are doing food stuff that requires a bunch of people to get together and participate.

I was a farmer for 7 years in North Carolina. The two markets I was a member of are 100% producer-owned, directly democratic corporations (I say producers because eventually bakers, crafters, etc were allowed in). There is a board of 5 producers elected at yearly required meetings, with rotating terms. There are monthly meetings all the producers were invited to attend, where they could give input on decisions made by the board about the by-laws. The by-laws contained things like dues payment and enforcement to make sure the members of the market were producing all the items they were selling within a 70-mile radius of the market. A few farmers started the market in the 1980s, and they, along with other farms and markets around the country, led to the explosion of the local food movement.

The reason I bring this up is to illustrate that a bunch of people can get together and produce food democratically, and on their terms, if they take the time to organize.

The other way our farm got income was from a system known as Community Supported Agriculture. Customers buy a share at the beginning of the year, and get a box of food of a certain size for a certain amount of weeks depending on what they paid. We did both veggie shares, and chicken shares. For 20 weeks during the year, we delivered boxes to the customers who invested.

Five Families with Vegetable Gardens… or maybe just an Oven?

One idea that can be expanded upon is to have, say, 5 families all grow vegetables throughout the growing season (spring, summer, and fall), or bake baked goods, to be shared equally. All the families would work in their own garden, but occasionally the gang members would get together as a group for bigger jobs in each garden.

A 5 family vegetable production gang would have an organizational meeting and plan the whole thing out. The idea would be for everyone to bring to the table something different, and enough for the other 4 families. All for one and one for all. All of the produce would be divided up equally and placed in boxes or tote bags. Then from there we could barter a little. Then everyone goes home with a weekly bag of food.

Crops fail, and entire gardens fail. If a family has nothing one week, they could bring baked goods or cook everyone a pot of something, and still go home with a box. This isn’t a group of people engaged in a business deal, it’s not a market, it’s a gang. We probably already know each other, or met each other through a mutual family, and we’re in this to help each other out and make the project work.

Meat is Yummy, but I say Keep it Vegan at First

The reason I would start off just doing vegetables, there’s about an equal amount of input, even if one garden is a little bigger than another. Another reason to keep it vegan is that vegans are into this kind of shit.

With meat products you run into problems. Meat products require lots of investment, and a lot more money than veggies. Inevitably the meat producer would be bringing a larger investment to the table. And it’s not easy to produce meat or even enough eggs for every family in a city (where we live). For 5 dozen eggs a week you’d have to have a flock of 12 young and healthy productive chickens. A flock only half that size is legal in most cities.

In order to offset conflicts, we don’t want one family producing so much that it would be cost prohibitive, even if they were generous and financially comfortable enough to do so.

However, we could decide all this at the planning meeting.

Shared Labor and Work Days

We could schedule days to all get together and help each other do big jobs, like set up the garden, plow or build raised beds, dig, plant, weed, plant some more, weed some more. We could knock that shit out in like 2 hours.

Think about how bad ass all of our gardens could be in our yards if you had like 10 people knocking it out on a Saturday.

Sharing in the Inputs

We have yards, we invest in our own gardens. But there are inputs we can share. Like tools and skills. Do you have a rototiller? I got me a chop saw. Can you drive without totaling a car? I can tell jokes. We can all throw in and do a bulk seed order and maybe get a price break. Maybe you have a discount at the Home Depot. When I was a farmer we used to do stuff like that with other farms to get a price break on fertilizer and seed potatoes.  We were a bunch of small farms who functioned as one big farm. The Food Gang would be doing that on a smaller scale. We’d be a bunch of backyard gardens working together to function as a small farm.

 Theme Song and Partying

We’d definitely have to have a theme song. And we’d also party. Oh, since we’re a gang we need a color, and an enemy color, so it would give us the right to fight anyone who wears the enemy color.

Tentative Five Family Food Gang Schedule

January Winter Planning Meeting

    • At least one member of each family gets together and decides who grows what and how much
    • Plan gardens and determine who can grow what
    • Schedule the rest of the season
    • Talk about bulk seed order/tool sharing
    • Talk about everything else

 

Late Winter/Early Spring Garden Prep Work Weekend/s

    • At least one member of each family (hopefully as many as possible) gets together and preps all five gardens. Ideally we’d have enough labor to prep all five gardens in 1 or 2 weekends
    • Raised bed building, plowing, digging, etc.
    • Planting transplants in a greenhouse, if we have one
Early Spring Outdoor Planting Work Day

    • we put first greenhouse transplant/seeds into the ground
Spring First Spring Harvest Produce Share (to be repeated weekly or bi weekly)

Spring party

Spring -> Summer Weekly Produce Share and Occasional Workdays

Summer party

Fall End of season meeting/party

 

The Sloover family may be able to join a project like this in 2019. Maybe you can form a gang this year. This is meant to be a very basic outline to get us talking about it. What do you think? Give me your ideas/issues/problems that might arise in the comments.

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3 Responses to Let’s start a food growers gang!

  1. Anonymous says:

    hello test test

    Like

  2. Tera says:

    Abe and I have been participating in CSAs for a few years now. I dig it because I really don’t know how. My green thumb is kind of brown. I do have a few house plants from all those damn funerals and for the most part, the damned manage to survive in our dungeon of a home. With that being said, my skills in the kitchen are quite the opposite. That’s where parts of my inherent skills can bring things to the table.
    I would be into contributing. I have enough yard/home space to plant a small to medium garden, however, I would need some brains to the operation. Put me to work in the gang. I have a truck. Tell me what to do. Teach me something or everything! I 100% could offer vegan baking/cooking. Maybe I could be the town canner? I have been known to tighten a few lids. I also fair well with organization of “gang like” needs such social media, event/meeting planning, email/newsletters, secretarial duties, and proper execution of gang initiations such as beat downs, blood ins, and or sex ins.
    In any case, I think this is a fulfilling idea on so many levels.
    Personally, I am starving to meet new people. I can see my bar scene days in the rearview mirror and I am giving the one finger salute as I roll by. However, this leaves me at the counter at the Gab ‘N Eat with the old heads. I don’t say much, but I love to listen. They also have the best fucking sausage! (Not the old heads, the Gab ‘N Eat. Don’t tell Abe that I know the difference. I am bored and unemployed.)
    I would love to see this new community work. Being that I am not a farmer I wouldn’t know where to start as far as the tasks of planning out a growing process. I could be of help in organizing how it is done. Sloover, have you given any thought to a group page for your gang green creation?

    If anyone else reading this is moving ahead in the discussion or planning process, please feel free to contact me to join in. I’ll bring sausage.

    Liked by 1 person

    • sloover says:

      Like everything I am using it as primarily an excuse to hang out with people regularly. You are italian you can grow vegetables. It’s like Token in South Park having a bass in the basement. But no, we plan it all out. I want as many Italians involved as possible. I already have an Italian from across the river who said yes. You kick that kitchen’s ass you know I know that. But that’s what I’m saying we decide what happens depending on who wants to participate and what they can do. Yes I would like to do a forum page that is off of facebook. Like the old forums before facebook. The thing is we can help each other plan the gardens if they want. Steve and Jamie already have their garden system down but you guys and us wouldn’t, so we’d have to build ours in our yards when we move back to the burg. We wanna move to the Neg because you guys and the Prozzolys live there

      Like

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