Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Missing the Farm-to-Work Program

This year, many of local Texas farmers have been suffering during this severe drought.  When I say suffering, I mean that their harvests have been smaller than the norm and certain programs that they rely on have had to back away until some well needed rain occurs.  Central Texas may have had rain at least one day in each of the last six weeks, but it doesn't even make a dent in the drought that we've been dealing with.  Where I live, we're still in a stage II watering restriction, which means watering twice a week, no new landscaping, no filling swimming pools, and no park irrigation.  It's been looking pretty brown, until the weeds took over a few weeks ago.

Anyway, back to our farmers.  At work, they have suspended our Farm-to-Work (FTW) program because the farmers were not producing enough vegetables or fruits for our demand.  This program was a super easy way for me to get new types of vegetables into my body, but I have to seek other mechanisms now.  Luckily, not to long ago, a local farm, Johnson's Backyard Garden (JBG), was advertising it's Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program through Groupon which eliminated the setup fees, so I took advantage.  Not only can you choose to have the baskets delivered straight to your home door, for a cheaper price, you can pick them up at a variety of drop-off locations (e.g., farmers' markets or houses which have volunteered to be a drop location).  In addition to just the vegetables, you can also get eadd-ons on an as-needed basis:  coffee, vegetable starters for your garden, eggs (which I have plenty of since I own chickens), oranges, and grapefruit - all organic.  Who wouldn't want to support a local farmer if the convenience is there?

Yes, my farm-to-work program is cheaper than JBG, but I have to consider two things:  1) Starting in about two months, my job moves downtown and therefore it'd be more difficult to get to the farmer's market that I would normally pick a JBG box up.  Also, with the job move, even if the FTW program was still going, I would have to go to the main campus for the pickup, and I'd have to do it by 4:00pm.  That's not going to happen.  So I like the possibility of getting the vegetables home delivered.  2) The FTW program is not certified organic.  I know this means very little since most local farmers cannot afford to get the stamp of certification; I've talked to a number of them at local farmers' markets.  My lawn, garden, compost, chickens, etc. are all organic.  I use very little pesticides and when I have companies come spray for ants and bugs, it's all organic and natural.  After my environmental health class back in 2003, I don't want to expose myself or anybody I live with to unnecessary chemicals that can cause cancer or other illnesses.  It's not for me.

Lastly, for those who live in the Austin, please consider supporting our local stores, venues, and farmers by purchasing a Go Local Card.  I fully believe if we begin to grown and support our local businesses, then perhaps our economy will strengthen.

No comments: