My 1/2 acre suburban food forest is really starting to produce, and I think my surplus is going to grow exponentially for a while. This was the first year that I felt overwhelmed just trying to harvest everything.
This is of course great, but also a problem. Permaculture/food foresting is mostly a pastime for me. I have a regular job, family, volunteer activities, etc. I am not trying to grow food to survive, but I am growing it for my own enjoyment and the enjoyment of my family and friends. I do not have any farm animals in my food forest, but I do have tons of wild (mostly native) birds and insects which perform some of the normal farm animal functions.
The problem is that very soon my surplus will be much greater than my need. I do give a lot away, but I won't have time to harvest (and/or preserve) all of it.
It seems like my options are 1) somehow get others to come harvest; 2) let the critters have it.
I don’t believe there is any "gleaning" organization in my town (e.g. Portland Fruit Tree Project).
I am not super excited about leaving too much to the critters, for fear of attracting "bad" ones, or too many of them, leaving little or nothing for me (which has happened in the past).
Is anyone else here in the same boat? What happens with your surplus?
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
posted 4 years ago
Do you have a local Senior's Center that provides meals to their members?
They may have a bunch of bored members sitting around that would love to get out to somebody's garden full of foods that taste like 'it used to'. They would probably be more appreciative, and less damaging than children. Also, they wouldn't create future problems like inviting homeless people in.
Run canning/dehydrating/preserving workshops, or trade and start putting feelers out for bartering agreements with neighbors with different skill sets. Also, small markets and even conscientious grocery chains who want to buy locally may be a great way to provide income that could be put back in to your permaculture plan. Within the problem lies a number of solutions. This is a great opportunity to develop mutually beneficial relationships with the fertile human landscape as well.
Go to the farmers market and talk to those who look after the stands. Some are probably employees or woofers. Do a 50/50 deal. They are bound to earn more with this, than they would harvesting on a farm. Most have free time, and some are allowed to market their own stuff, along with that of their employer.
Raccoons and rats will tell their friends if stuff is allowed to go to waste.
Do you have many friends that like/ want organic food? If so they could be great helpers in the harvesting of your crops.
If there is an elementary school near by, it might be possible to talk to some of the teachers, a field trip where the children could harvest and then take home their harvested produce might be a great way to introduce them to the food forest concept and it would be great fun for them.
Set up a Limited U-Pick time period, you might be surprised at how many people would come for fresh produce.
Those are just some ideas that others haven't mentioned so far.