Posts tagged cost savings

The Urban Farm

I met with the guys from Green City Growers  and was super impressed.  (As I mentioned in my post last week, they are the guys who installed a roof-top organic farm for B.Good burgers.)  They arrived for the appointment on time and we took a quick walk around my yard.  They analyzed the amount of light and shade in each area, and we discussed how to fit the raised beds into the existing landscaping.  We then sat down to talk about the different options they offer.

Different Bed Sizes:

They offer different bed sizes with small being 4×4, medium 4×8 and large 4×12.  They can also do custom shapes.  For example, in my yard a 2×8 box will work better than the 4×4 but will cost the same because the total square footage is the same.  Regardless of size, however, the price for the bed includes the following:

  • set up
  • irrigation system with timers
  • growing medium
  • plants

Maintenance Plans:

Sample farm plan (used with permisiion from Green City Growers)

Sample farm plan (used with permission from Green City Growers)

Once you decide to move forward with your new farm, you have several different options for maintenance:

  • Weekly maintenance: For a weekly fee which varies depending on the size of the bed you have chosen, Green City will come to your house every week and water, prune, harvest or whatever else needs to be done.  This is a good option for people who like the idea of a vegetable garden, but don’t have the time or skill to take care of it properly.
  • Monthly consults: For $85, the guys will come in once a month to check in on your garden.  They will help you fix any problems that may have cropped up and do some maintenance on the garden if needed.  This is a good option if you like gardening and don’t mind doing most of the work yourself, but could still use a professional consult once in a while to make sure you are doing things right.
  • Self farming: If you are a pretty skilled gardener and feel you can go it alone, for $175 Green City will provide a 1 time consultation and tutorial on how to maintin your garden.  They will also come by for a visit one month later to see how you and your farm are doing.

This seems like a really intriguing option.  I’ve been using Boston Organics and have not been entirely happy.  The idea of being able to harvest vegetables from my own backyard is really appealing.  Now I just need to run the numbers…

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An organic farm in your own backyard

Newly Installed Farm in Brookline (Courtesy of the Green City Growers stream on Flickr)

Newly Installed Farm in Brookline (Courtesy of the Green City Growers stream on Flickr)

I found out last week that B.Good, one of my favorite Boston area food establishments, has done something that makes me love them even more.  In addition to their delicious mango smoothies and baked sweet potato fries, they have installed an organic rooftop farm at their Brookline location!  Yes, that’s right, an organic rooftop farm!

The farm was installed and maintained by a Somerville company called Green City Growers.  This innovative company installs raised-bed organic farms in urban areas.  They can use a space as small as 4 ft by 4 ft.  They will either teach you how to care for your farm yourself, or they will come and tend it for you.  It’s a great alternative to a CSA, and I’ve decided to look into it for my own backyard.  I have a consult set up with Gabe next week and will keep you posted as I find out more!

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One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, my approach to greening my life is to start with small changes that will be easy to implement but whose impact can be quite significant.  One of these measures was to place a plastic bottle filled with water into the tank of my toilet to instantly turn it into a lower flow toilet without having to spend money or send the old toilet to the landfill.  Easy, right?

Not so fast.  My first attempt at this failed miserably.  I didn’t have the 2 liter bottle suggested on the video clip I saw on Planet Green, but I did have a 16 oz one.  No problem, I thought.  I’ll just start small.  I filled the bottle with water, placed it in the tank and was very proud of myself.  The first few flushes went just fine, and I was really happy to be saving 16oz of water with each flush. (Little things make me happy).

Just when I was sure that everything was fine, I was proven wrong.  I flushed the toilet, left the room.  A few minutes later it was still flushing.  I opened the tank to find that the bottle had flipped over and wedged itself under the stopper (not sure that is the technical term, but that’s what I will call it).  With that one flush I flushed away enough water to negate everything I had saved by putting the bottle in the tank in the first place. Ughh!

Not being one to give up after one small defeat, I decided to try again. This time it was a 1 liter bottle.  Bigger and more stable, this worked well for several months.  Today, however, I was twarted again!  I was having some plumbing issues elsewhere in the house, and called a plumber in.  I figured that while he was there I should have him take a look at the toilet, which just didn’t seem to be flushing as well as it used to.  The plumber opened the tank, pulled out the bottle of water, and said “The first thing you need to do is get rid of this!”  So much for my effort to be green : (

According to the plumber, each toilet is designed to work with a certain amount of water.  If you place something in the tank to displace the water, the toilet may not perform well because quite simply it doesn’t have enough water moving through the system to effectively do its job (if you know what I mean).  The plumber’s recommendation was to replace the toilet with an actual low-flow system, which I plan to do in the future (i.e. when I can afford it).

So much for saving water.  It feels like one step forward, two steps back!

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