Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

Food Prices: A better way…

If my life were a country-western song, “There’s just gotta be a better way….” would be the refrain. It goes something like this:

Gas prices growin’, the economy is slowin’.
Can’t find a buck to help me through the daaaaay.
I drive to the food mart, pay a mortgage for my food cart.
I wish my kids could just eat my horses’ haaaaay.

Oh, I can’t pay for food today.
No, I can’t pay for food too-oodaaaay.
Food prices growin’, paychecks are slowin’.
Oh, there’s just gotta be a better waaaay.

Insert a steel guitar, a slow harmonica, plenty of twang, and well…you get the point. The truth is that, for a number of reasons, food prices are skyrocketing. The Guardian posted a great summary of five major contributing factors, which include:

  1. surging energy prices,
  2. increased demand due to population growth,
  3. droughts devastating grain-producing countries,
  4. biofuel crops competing for land, and
  5. speculative trading of food commodities

Analysts will debate how to weight the influence of each of these factors, and then policy-wonks will debate the best methods for reversing the effects, and then politicians will debate the cheapest ways to get everything done by some random date way off in the future. I get so frustrated watching the powers-that-be move in circles that I can’t help but thinking … Oh, there’s just gotta be a better waaaay….

Eliot Coleman has a better way: Avoid food prices all together. Eliot has been growing his own organic vegetables (for consumption and for sale) year-round for over 30 years. He’s designed a system of greenhouses and high tunnels that allow him to keep fertile gardens for all four seasons…even through the brutal winters in his hometown of Harborside, Maine. Coupled with his cattle, sheep, and range poultry, Eliot has fresh food all year round without ever making a trip to the grocery store.

Eliot’s book, Four-Season Harvest, explains how he does it all. You can download Eliot’s chapter called The Covered Garden: Greenhouses and High Tunnels here. In it you will find Eliot’s greenhouse designs, high tunnel construction plans, a mobile greenhouse, maintenance tips, plotting maps, winter gardening techniques, and advice on deterring pests.

Download The Covered Garden: Greenhouses and High Tunnels from Four-Season Harvest.


Ask the Expert: Andrew Mefferd

Before writing The Greenhouse and Hoophouse Grower’s Handbook: Organic Vegetable Production Using Protected Culture, Andrew Mefferd spent seven years in the research department at Johnny’s Selected Seeds, traveling around the world to consult with researchers and farmers on the best practices in greenhouse growing. Andrew has graciously agreed to offer up his expertise to our […] Read More

Top 10 favorite goat facts (with gifs)

New this month from author Gianaclis Caldwell, Holistic Goat Care is the essential resource on caring for your herd. Goats have provided humankind with essential products for centuries; indeed, they bear the noble distinction of being the first domesticated farm animal. From providing milk and meat for sustenance and fiber and hides for clothing and shelter […] Read More

New French edition of The Resilient Farm and Homestead available

Great news for French-speaking fans of Ben Falk’s The Resilient Farm and Homestead: An Innovative Permaculture and Whole Systems Design Approach. The French language translation is now available from Imagine Un Colibri, from French booksellers, and on Amazon.fr. Falk’s book is a technical manual that details the strategies he and his team have developed for […] Read More

How to Make Biochar

Doing some spring cleaning around your property? By making biochar from brush and other hard-to-compost organic material, you can improve soil—it enhances nutrient availability and also enables soil to retain nutrients longer. This excerpt from The New Farmer’s Almanac, Volume 3, explains how to get started. To make biochar right in your garden, start by […] Read More

Generosity as Activism, and Other Homesteading Principles to Live By

“Like everyone I know, we occasionally find ourselves faced with a decision to which there is no obvious answer,” says Ben Hewitt, coauthor of The Nourishing Homestead. “Do we borrow money to build a bigger barn, or do we keep getting by with what we have? Do we spend our meager savings on trees and […] Read More
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