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January 1, 2008

WHAT’S NEW FOR THE NEW YEAR? PROJECT #1

Posted by Anais Dervaes

GROW FOR TEN THOUSAND

Our readers know that that we've been hinting for months about a great new project in the works. As we start the new year, the moment has come to reveal our plan, along with a new logo exemplifying the revolutionary spirit of PTF's Homegrown Revolution™: To harvest 10,000 pounds in 2008 from 1/10 acre.

We had wanted this announcement to coincide with the launch of our new website, but it looks like the new website won’t be online for a few months yet. And nature won’t wait for the new site.

Once again, the driving force behind PTF, Jules Dervaes, has led the way with a radical challenge. Can we urban homesteaders deliver? PTF will be trailblazing a new path as we ask: How much food can be grown on such a small scale?

Back in 2003, we at PTF first shocked ourselves and “the world” by growing 6,000 lbs (3 tons) of fruits, vegetables and herbs on our 1/10 acre growing space and proved that we could approach a high level of self sufficiency both directly and indirectly from our city lot.

Learning through years of self-taught, hands-on growing experience, none of us has any agriculture accreditation or has taken permaculture or master gardening courses. From firsthand knowledge, mixed with a passion for the environment and growing things, Jules has dramatically upped the ante on the urban food movement. Living by example, we use our "hands as weapons of mass creation™" to create a better present and a real future.

Can 1/10 of an acre (about 4,300 sq ft) grow a cornucopia of 10,000 pounds without using ANY organic NPK fertilizers? We are talking about a piece of land equivalent to 66'x66'! Such an urban food production feat has not been undertaken and documented with stats to prove its possibility. Are we crazy? Crazy, you say? Yes siree, bob. Whether or not this happens all depends on the weather. God willing, we hope to be blessed with abundant rainfall and good weather to reap a bountiful harvest! Stay tuned to this journal for the out-of-this world developments.

Join us in our mission to be the change by living the solution! The seeds of PTF's Homegrown Revolution™ have been growing for nearly seven years now and are reaching maturity. You can contribute your support through purchases from our online store or making a timely (tax deductible) donation. We need your help to spread the word to friends and family and throughout the cyber world (via message boards, blogs, etc.). It's our mission to Grow the Future™, and you can help support our efforts in launching a new site to document this project along with our ongoing urban homesteading adventures.

We want to extend the challenge to grow for 10,000 pounds to our readers and propose that you pledge to match us penny for pound (or whatever amount you’d like to contribute). By donating one, half or more penny for each pound of produce we harvest ($100 over one year—if we meet our goal), you can help us purchase the necessary technological tools and services needed to document, publish and publicize this sustainability challenge! You can be involved directly in reaching others with this radical solution to save the people and the planet.

Also stay tuned for the final harvest tally for 2007!


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20 Comments: "WHAT’S NEW FOR THE NEW YEAR? PROJECT #1" »

  1. should be easy as pie. all you have to do is harvest 27 pounds a day -- starting today, of course. kidding aside, you are really inspiring me to get cracking on turning my 4'x12' apartment balcony into a mini-farm.

  2. What an amazing goal! I wish all the best in reaching your goal! I'm hoping to grow more of our own food this year. Plans are in the works. God willing we will both meet our goals! May the rain fall abundantly! (but not too....)

  3. Sounds great! Hope it is a great growing year.

    I never have weighed the produce we have grown on our city lot. I might do that this year.

  4. I think you can do this with really good planning. A few things that might help:
    1) Have lots of flats of transplants on boards on rollers that can grow in paths and be shifted out of the way when you need to get to a bed. Think Rubic's Cube with bars instead of blocks to envision this.
    2) More hives and honey
    3) Weighing eggs if you don't already
    4) Trying to take plants out when you have harvested the majority of what you can get from them, so a new crop can be underway. May sacrifice a few remaining items or they may be smaller than if harvested later, but over all yields should rise.
    5) Harvest frequently to keep plants maximally productive.
    6) Pull out nearly done plants and hang them upside down to finish.
    7) Have some crops/varieties that produce early and all at once. Use these for food storage and replant. Have some others for daily fresh use that have extended harvests.
    8) Make yourselves some really detailed seed starting, transplanting, harvesting, and food preservation planning charts. Info in Jeavons book is a big help with this.
    9) Order all your seeds now so backordered seeds or slow order filling doesn't disrupt the plans. Order any food preservation items well in advance of being needed too.
    10) It seems like this could take twice the compost. A plan for having enough finished compost ready for each replanting would help keep things on track.
    11) When it's rainy/cold/dark, it might be an opportunity to cook some extra meals and put them in the freezer for future days that are super busy. Plus that will help warm the house when you'd most appreciate it.
    12) Would one of your volunteers put daily harvest info into a spreadsheet once a week? That would give you an ongoing idea of how things are progressing.

    Hope you have lots of fun with the challenge you have set for yourselves!

  5. You are such an inspiration. Best of luck! You've taught me to be more purposeful and focused. This year I will weigh my harvest for the first time.

  6. Steffie

    Thanks for the positive comments.

    Good for you. It's always such a reward to grow food and it's an incentive to weight what you grow. The results may shock you! They did when we actually weighed our produce back in 2001....

    Happy planting and weighing!
    Anais

  7. I live in a 3rd story condo, we have two patios. Right now I already have dill, basil, parsley, strawberries, sage, tarragon, onions, rosemary, thyme, oregano, bay leafs, a tomato plant, two different kinds of peppers, and a surviving christmas poinsetta. That is all on the main balcony. We also have a balcony off of our bedroom which I have yet to occupy, but plan on doing it soon! I read the whole insight section, and I can't even explain how inspired I was by it! I was talking to my roommate last night wondering if water ever got turned off, what would we do, where would the nearest watering hole be?!? My Boyfriend still laughs at these ways of thinking, but he is for having a garden, and wants to have a big one once we can get into a home. I keep telling him that he won't call me crazy when we are not the starving ones....

  8. I often share your story of the 6,000 pound harvest with kindred spirits of kitchen gardens. (Everyone is amazed - as am I) Our northern season is relatively short. We preserve as much as possible, and now are enjoying the end of last year's tomato and squash crops. We cheer you on, and wish you the best. Thanks so much for the continuing inspiration!

  9. Send me some information, please

  10. I live on the same size property, and I think my first goal should be 1000lbs. That seems like an aweful lot. I live in the northwest though, and I am not allowed animals or bees here. So... maybe next summer I can get started, working with what I have. My 14 year old any myself built 3 raised beds/terracing on my slope. I did some harvesting this year, but the weather and other time delay issues came into play.

  11. Hi there,

    I have jsut recently come over your site. It is inspiring to see how you guys are using what you have. I grew up feeding my many pets off of what our yard provided and what I could grow. This stuff has been my passion since I was about 15 years old. Then I lived in the city but just recently my husband and I bought 2 1/2 acres in N.C. Now all those years of living the country life in the city has paid off. I now have the knowledge to live my life to the fullest in the country.

    We just got a garden planted this year for the fall. The collards are the best I have ever tasted! It is 25 x 42 feet with in about 2 years we plan to have about 30 by 80 by then I will be out of the military and staying at home with my children. We put in three fruit trees so far and are planning 6 more. And put in 3 raspberry, 3 blackberry and 2 fig bushes. We also bought 4 hens, a rooster and three guineas, and are getting 5 chicks from the neighbors of unknown sex.

    Next year we plan on building the goat yard and getting two female milk goats and one male. Hopefully within a couple years we may be able to get a couple beehives also. And next year we plan on starting a strawberry patch about 30 foot long x 20 feet.

    The goal is to have enough food for us and enough food to sell off cheap to local family and friends. That way we help them and they help us in these tough times. We will be on one income in one year and have all these projects to set up before then. Also plan to have a stock full of potatoes, carrots, onions, canned goods and dry goods on hand for that time so that we can adjust without too much shock.

    Though we have 2 1/2 acres I still use the raised bed intensive gardening technique. He asks me why do I do that when we don't need to. My answer is why use more land if it is not needed. That land can be used for something else. Plus it is less I have to hoe and water. I just like the look of it also.

    As for 10,000 pounds next year. Most likely not going to happen...this year...but I do plan on getting a scale and seeing what I can grow. Have to start somewhere. Do you guys weigh the chicken eggs to? I am taking another challenge of yours and that is to grow at least one meal a week. When the chickens start laying I am planning a weekend breakfast of omlett, with oregano, chopped onions, green peppers and tomato. Someday that will include homemade buttermilk buscuits with homemade homegrown preserves or honey. Oh for that day. But I have this day and I am happy with that. You guys keep those hands dirty and keep on posting please!

    Thanks,

    homefirst

  12. You have inspired us to dump the lawn and build raised beds..2000 square feet...we are no where near your productivity but your in depth site provides inspiration to us to keep planting!
    Thanks!

    Charlie and Pam
    Nyack

  13. We have had a vegetable garden for the last 4 yrs. Each year it gets bigger. Now we need to plant closer together for more production. I can & freeze what we don't eat. It is so much better than anything you can but at the store.

  14. I'm very interested in urban self-sufficiency. How'd the 10,000 pound challenge work out? Got stats or stories? Any lessons learned? I agree that high productivity is needed. How many people did you feed with your garden? Are you also tying it to meeting all nutrition and medicinal needs from your garden alone? (see "Gardening for Maximum Nutrition" by J. Minnich and "Super Nutrition Gardening" by W. Peavy for facts and some figures)

  15. i have been growing vegetables for 4 years now. last year i got 4500 pounds of vegetables. my plot size is 50'x45'. this year i am growing vegetables vertically and even on my roof to increase my produce.

  16. On January 4th, 2008 at 8:25 pm,
    Sharon Says:

    "9) Order all your seeds now so backordered seeds or slow order filling doesn’t disrupt the plans. Order any food preservation items well in advance of being needed too."

    Personally harvesting all of my own seeds is the way I go every year. Not only is it truly sustainable, but I find it saves LOTS of money and I ALWAYS have plenty to share out with friends and family or sell at the farmer's market.

    SAY NO TO G.E. FOOD!!! :)

    Hope

  17. How do you justify all the toxic smoke that your woodstove is producing? Not a green choice!

  18. We are homesteading in Canada so not everything you write in your blog is applicable. The spirit is the same, though. Thanks.

    Brenda, we justify our "toxic smoke" because it comforts the neighbors to see it and to know we are home. 'Course they live half a mile away, across the lake.

  19. I have been trying to become an active blog member for some time but I have been having quite a lot of difficulty. The comment I would like to share is 1. I love the work you do and stand for; 2. I and my husband are caretakers for a 250 acre farm. We have cattle and I have a large garden area-approx 80ft x 140ft. I feel overwhelmed with such a large area to work with and would appreciate any suggestions for utilizing every inch of my garden to produce as much as possible. My goal for 2010 is to be as self supportive as I possibly can. I also have my sister-in-law on board which is a plus. The farm is mainly used for apple sales as we have near 2000 trees, many heirloom varieties. Love the multitude of information you provide and look forward to any assistance/advice from anyone.

  20. I know I just posted but I forgot to mention that we have a chicken building and place for goats. I hope to have both soon. Advice with this also gladly appreciated. We live in Ohio.

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