Although I have a vegetable garden it’s not really large enough to supply all the vegetables my family uses through the year. I’d love to double the size of my garden but I’m still married and want to stay that way. He says it would take up “all” the dogs’ running space. He’s wrong but, being a diplomatic type, I almost never tell him. Meanwhile, I’ve found some ways for saving money on produce so I’m able to can, dehydrate, and freeze what I can’t grow.
1. My first strategy is, of course, to grow as much as I can. If you have room for a vegetable garden or fruit trees/bushes it really is a great way to save money and know exactly what you’re eating.
2. Check with friends who have fruit and/or vegetable gardens. Many times people get much bigger yields than they expected and are more than happy to give you their “extra” produce.
3. Buy in season vegetables and fruit only. Locally grown, in season produce is always best and it’s also cheaper. Plus you know if it’s local that you’re not getting something that’s been trucked thousands of miles thus requiring chemicals to “preserve freshness.”
4. Visit U-Pick farms. Although many people associate these farms only with fruit many farms offer vegetables you can pick yourself.
5. Shop the local farmers markets. The sellers there will almost always give you a better price than the store and, if you buy in bulk, they’ll usually lower their price even more. If you can wait the best prices are offered at the end of the day since most sellers don’t really want to have to pack up what they haven’t sold and take it home.
6. Local produce stands are a great way to save money. In our area farmers just set out stands with a great variety of produce at wonderful prices. And around here they’re on the honor system so you can even leave an IOU as long as you actually come back and put the money in the box.
7. Check with farmers for bulk pricing. You can usually get a great price on produce for canning or otherwise preserving if you can buy enough to make it worth the farmer’s time to talk to you. You can check with relatives and friends so you can make a shared bulk buy if you don’t need a huge amount.
8. Offer your services in harvesting to a farmer. A lot of farmers are happy to give you a decent amount of the produce you harvest because it saves them money on labor.
9. Barter for produce. Maybe you can’t harvest a field but you may have other things you can barter for free produce. Maybe you can cook for the workers or babysit for the farmer(s) of a family owned farm. Be creative and don’t be afraid to ask what services they could use.
10. Join a local CSA (Community Shared Agriculture). This is basically a way for you to buy “shares” in a farm. Some CSA’s require shareholders to do some work (typically one shift a week). In addition to vegetable and fruit CSA’s many offer beef, chicken, and other meat products.