6 Ways to Save Money at the Farmer’s Market

farmers-marketThere is a great local farmer’s market in North Hollywood, California: Noho Farmer’s Market.  They’re open every Saturday and they always seem to have a bit of everything and live music too!

A farmer’s market is an extremely interesting place to do your shopping. In these markets you will find a wide variety of food stuffs for your selection. This is a good way of purchasing fresh as well as healthy fruits from the local dealers. However, you must be careful not to overspend. Saving money at the farmer’s market can easily be achieved by making use of the following tips.

1. Go round the market

Most people usually spend more money than they would have due to the fact that they purchase what they need from the first vendor. It is advisable to visit different vendors. These markets are known to be overwhelming, therefore as you go there to shop, always walk around the different sections of the market. Go to all the vendors and check out the items on offer as well as their prices before making your final decision on what to purchase. In most cases vendors situated at the entrance of the market usually sell their items at a more costly price when compared to those found at the back.

2. Go at a later time

Different farmer’s markets operate at varying times. Some are usually open by 7 am and close by 7 pm. For such a case you can go anytime between 5.30 and 6. From time to time, vendors are said to reduce their prices as the day comes to an end. They do this in order to quickly sell the remaining foodstuffs and avoid carrying them back home.

3. Purchase blemished produce

It is important to note that in no way does this mean that you should purchase spoiled foodstuffs. A good example of this can be seen when planning to prepare a fruit smoothie, it is not necessary for you to select perfect or unblemished fruit. A large number of people usually disregard fruits that have a few bruises. This should not be a problem especially when not being eaten whole. By purchasing such fruits, you can always get a price reduction since dealers constantly looking to get buyers for their blemished goods.

4. Stay within your budget

A large number of farmer’s markets usually work with cash. This will actually turn out to be beneficial to you as it will make it possible for you to control your spending. Impulse buying can easily be practiced when dealing with foodstuffs that look and smell so delicious. Your budget will allow you to only carry the necessary cash and is therefore one of the best cost cutting methods.

5. Bulk purchasing

In case you are preparing to make a large meal or canned fruits to be eaten at a later time, then bulk purchasing would be the way to go. The reason for this is because better deals are given when it comes to bulk items. A good example would be purchasing 12 pints of berries with a pint of berries being sold for $2.99 each while the total cost of the 12 pints being $25. At the end of the day you will save up to 10 dollars from bulk purchasing.

6. Frequent shopper

Returning to the same dealer each time you want to purchase foodstuffs from a farmer’s market, can lead to friendship between you and vendor who might end up giving you a discount each time you make any purchase.

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Top 6 Ways to Save Energy on the Farm

9444667_sA farm is a business that strives to control costs, improve revenue and maximize profits. Apart from labor and equipment costs, energy costs are the largest barrier to profitability for a farm. The use of machines in farms does constitute a very large percentage of energy use and thus forms a large percentage of the monthly energy bill. To cut down on this cost and ensure profitability the following tips may come in handy:

1. Keep machinery well maintained.

If the farm uses tractors in its day to day operations then it is important to ensure that the tractor or any other machinery is well maintained. Keep a log about the service dates for all machinery in the farm; from irrigation pumps to tractor implements. Ensure all moving parts are oiled and well lubricated, change worn out parts promptly and ensure you only use original spare parts and engage qualified personnel to effect the changes. Ensure tractor and pick up tires are well inflated. For irrigation pumps, seal all leaks and replace worn out nozzles.

2. Use appropriate lighting at the farm.

Several studies have shown that the use of compact fluorescent lights can reduce the cost of electric energy by a whopping 70%. Replace all the incandescent bulbs with energy saving fluorescent bulbs to reap huge energy savings; this is especially so for poultry and dairy farmers who consume a lot of energy. There are currently more advanced High intensity Discharge lights and high output fluorescent lights that can be used in either cold or hot environments. There is an energy saving bulb for everyone and it is a sure way of saving energy on the farm.

3. Improve fuel efficiency

In a farm, fuel consumption will vary due to crop yields, tractor or motor efficiency, soil moisture content etc. This can be done by matching field equipment and implements to the appropriate sized tractor; if excess horsepower is used for a certain task, fuel efficiency is greatly compromised. It is also important to organize and arrange the trips you take around the farm. There are certain herbicides like 28 UAN solutions that can be mixed with fertilizer during the pre planting and applied in one trip rather than having two separate trips. Also avoiding the use of certain equipment like a cultivator unless very necessary will save on energy costs. The farm pick up should be used sparingly.

4. Upgrade motors used in certain equipment

There are some machines which may that some of their parts be replaced or upgraded to more efficient parts. Refrigerators and milking equipment are usually prime candidates; changing the standard vacuum pumps that come with single speed drives with a Variable speed drive on the pump system can drastically lower the power requirements from around 10 CFM to around 2 CFM; this can lower the energy requirements by 50%. Using a plate cooler instead of just having the compressor reduce the temperature of milk as it passes through the milking system will also reduce amount of energy expended and ultimately saving energy on the farm.

5. Develop proper irrigation scheduling methods

Irrigation pumps use a lot of energy; apart from the normal maintenance it is important to avoid instances of overwatering, patchy distribution and inadequate pressure levels to fully irrigate a field. Once irrigation inefficiencies are addressed then the most optimum level of fuel usage by the irrigation system will be achieved; thus saving energy on the farm.

6. Carry out an Energy Audit

There are several organizations such as EnSave for example, that offer programs that provide detailed, well planned and accurate energy audit services to farmers, and come up with cost effective measures to reduce energy loss and improve efficiency and productivity. It is important to carry out an audit as this will assist a farmer to plan and strive towards implement specific energy saving programs that have been identified.

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How to Grow Organic Peas

peasPeas are generally easy to grow; whether you decide to plant them in a large garden or in a container. Growing organic peas is all about timing, the summer heat does not favor growing organic peas neither does winter. There are several types of peas, namely shelling peas, Snap peas, Soup peas and Snow peas. They are all grown in a relatively similar manner. The steps include;

Soaking the seeds in water overnight; this does speed up the germination process. Choose a site that receives the full sun, ideally a slope with some exposure on the southern side will do just fine. Ensure the soil you are about to use has a soil pH of between 6.0 and 6.8. If you are planting in a new garden that has not been used before then it is important to add inoculants (friendly bacteria) powder called Rhizobia, they help the seed to use the nitrogen in the soil; if you had planted there before then the inoculants are not required.

Peas cannot handle very wet soil, so ensure that the soil drains well. To grow organic peas you will need to dig in plenty of compost so as to provide the right texture. Soil additives that are high in nitrogen should be avoided. If the soil is heavy and cannot be amended; the peas should be grown in raised beds then.

The seeds should be planted 1 inch deep, 3 or 4 inches apart, in rows that are 3 feet apart. It is important to install a trellis for the peas to climb on as they grow, it is important to start guiding the vines along the trellis as soon as they start growing.

To enjoy maximum benefits of the planting season it is advisable to plant a different variety of peas that are heat resistant a few weeks after the 1st sowing then plant another crop 8 -10 weeks before the 1st frost date for an autumn harvest.

Ensure that the young plants get ½ an inch of water a week or an inch of water if the soil is sandy, but if the plant flowers, it shall need an inch of water per week. You must ensure that they are never waterlogged; the seeds may rot or produce minimal yields. When growing organic peas you can add some compost tea, twice a week during the growing season. If the soil is not very fertile then some side dressing with compost when the seeds are 6 inches tall will suffice.

Vines are quite delicate; when growing organic peas try to avoid touching the vines, pull out any weeds using your bare hands, this will help to avoid pea root damage. Once the weather and soil warms, it is important to have in place two inches of organic mulch; this will reduce weeds and keep the roots cool. When growing organic peas during fall they are mulched immediately and another layer added once they get to an inch or two in height.

When a vine stops producing, it should not be uprooted; but rather cut off at the ground level, this is important as it leaves the root nodules that are rich in nitrogen in the ground. Other crops can then use the nitrogen left behind. Peas can fall victim to several plant diseases like root rot, fusarium wilt and powdery mildew. It is important to choose disease resistant varieties and do crop rotation.

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