Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Rising Costs of Fresh Fruit & Veg

Oh what a beautiful morning... 
I don't think anyone hasn't been gob-smacked by the cost of bananas.

But $4 for a small capsicum? My youngest sister came to the conclusion its time to "drink more wine. It's cheaper, tastes better, and I look fantastic after a few!" after pondering if hers was a Magic capsicum. She decided it must be for such an insulting, exorbitant price. 

Most likely, this is the fall out from the crop poisonings last August which destroyed millions of tomato, capsicum, eggplant and other such produce when water was contaminated by unknown saboteurs. Another poisoning attempt was recently made on strawberry produces but thankfully that was stopped due to increased security against possible attacks.

Why are people at war with the farmers? It's not like farmers are the ones dictating prices at the supermarket and, from what I understand, they barely make enough profit to make ends meet themselves. Bananas for $15 per kilo ~ and I am positive the sellers would barely get a quarter that price. Especially know we have bought bananas for $4-$5 per kilo at the markets here in Bundy. 

It's been a tough year for our fruit and veg ~ hasn't it. There's been floods and cyclones, locusts and mice, and some parts of the country have had droughts for the past 10 years only to get washed away in the first year offering some opportunity to grow. Potato farmers striking, crops being poisoned, petrol/oil costs increasing and supermarkets bringing prices "down down, prices are down" ~ just not so much on the fresh, Australian grown goods.

What would life be like if we all had to buy locally. If the cost of transporting produce became so unreasonable that primary producers could not get their goods to buyers? Do you know how grow fruit and vegetables for your family if necessary? Can you milk a cow (if you had one), slaughter a chook, make yogurt or cheese, or savoury shapes? Imagine the cost of food doubled in September . . . and stayed at those prices for the next 12 months. Would you be able to afford your shopping habits as a consequence of economics ~ if you could afford to continue shopping the same way?

We've made our own bed... 
Making the Bed 

In light of that above, we have started to build our 'temporary' vegetable beds here. Mind you, the climate in Bundaberg is a mighty site different to that of freezing Ballarat. In fact, the veggie growing season appears to be coming to an end for the main bulk of crops. Things we plant now will be harvestable (if that is a word) around November and December with not a lot of the summer gardening we are used to - but I think we should be able to produce enough to freeze, pickle or preserve for the hot, wet, humid months to come.

We do already have basil, chives, oregano and parsley growing in a herb pot, plus some lettuce, strawberries and mulberry in other pots. We are about to fill a third pot (the old laundry sink actually) with some snow peas, wombok, coriander, mint and mustard greens. And, having met some wonderful local home growers, we've got ginger and yakon rhizomes to plant in next month.
The Laundry Tub ~ ready for herbs... 
Looking at Gardenate ~ there are quite a few of our favourite vegetables which can be planted over the next 4-6 weeks.  Vegetables like beetroot, celery, carrots, potatoes, onions, beans, lettuce, cucumber, pumpkin and radish. We can also start seed trays of leeks, capsicum, chilli, melons, cabbage, tomatoes and lots of different herbs.

Aside from building a raised garden bed and the laundry sink, we also have two concrete tubs and the inside barrel of a washing machine to use for growing produce in. Along with a few big pots and tubs, we hope to be able to share and exchange with others for things we don't have ~ like eggs. Oh we do miss our fresh laid googie eggs.
Miss my gerls...
Most of the manual work at the moment is being done by Husband, with a lot of advice, guidance and directions from moi! Our financial outlay so far has been zip and we hope to continue that way. Thanks to friendly local Freecyclers, we've also got some fresh, organic seaweed fertiliser - a wonderful surprise and a huge money saver.

We will be sharing the progress and hope to be able to get lots of personal tips from successful vegetable growers around the country. Saving money at the shopping end will mean more available to get rid of this debt and buy ourselves our own home here - ideally close to the high school SmallBoy will be attending for the next five years. Loving our new environment and already feeling part of a lovely community. *cheers*

Until tomorrow ~ keep that wallet closed (unless of course you want to contribute to our Spare Change Jar or Treasure Chest). All the little pennies add up and help us in more ways than you can imagine :D

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