Want to preserve foods but don't have a garden? You still can without spending a ton of money. Whether you live in the city with little space or you have room for a garden, you don’t need a garden to preserve foods for your family. While it is ideal to have your own garden, there are many reasons for not doing so. But they don’t have to stop you from enjoying the harvest of fresh foods and preserving them for your family. We live in an area where we have access to just about everything when it comes to fresh produce. Communities see the importance of offering weekly farmer’s market days to their locals. Family owned produce farms and businesses are popping up all the time. The state of Georgia has several large state farmer’s markets within reasonable driving distance from any part of our state. There is also a huge international farmer’s market close to Atlanta. While I don’t consider the latter’s prices good enough to buy in bulk for preserving, we enjoy shopping there for items that can’t be found elsewhere. We truly are blessed.
GATHERING FOODS TO PRESERVE WITHOUT A GARDEN
Seven places to find the treasures:
Family and Friends – do they have garden space for you to work? Or if you don’t have the time or the ability, buy seeds and plants and offer to share the bounty in return will open the door for produce.
Farmer’s Markets – communities are opening up more to this idea for local garden owners. Do your research on those closest to you. Get to know the sellers and tell them what you are looking for and why; many will be happy to work with you or get you in contact with someone who can help.
If your state has a farmer’s market, visit it. If it is open year round go at different seasons to see the produce. Find a farmer who is willing to work with you on the items and price. - Many will negotiate prices.
Pick Your Own – these farms are perfect for items like blueberries and strawberries. Many of these farms have a huge variety of items to choose from. Check out the Pick Your Own website for farms near you.
Flea Markets - don't ignore this idea, because the big flea markets have produce vendors and local farmers who will set up for a few hours on the weekend to sell their goods. In the past, we had a farmer set aside their spotted and over ripe tomatoes that would not sell to others so I could make spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, and salsa. One weekend, we bought three cases for a discounted price because they were not beautiful.
Preserving Foods WITHOUT a Garden
The next three considerations we have not used. I’ve researched them several times in the past and they are not feasible for us, but may work out for you.
CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) – as a consumer you are subscribing (or buying) into the harvest from a local farmer. While many farms are fruits and vegetables only, there are many more who offer other farm items like meat and dairy. There are risks when buying a membership to a CSA; paying up front with no reimbursement for missed pick up dates or slim harvest for the week and failed crops just to name two. Check out the Local Harvest website for farms in your area.
Produce Co-Op – buying shares in a co-op is done either weekly or bi-weekly. While most of these are boxes with enough produce for a week or so for a family, they may run specials on bulk items that are in season (tomatoes, apples, and oranges). By doing a little internet search you should find local co-ops using local farmers and stores instead of those from who knows where. If you can’t find one locally, you may even consider Starting Your Own Produce Co-op with friends and neighbors.
Produce Trucks – just recently an out of state friend mentioned she was already putting away GA peaches. She purchased these from The Peach Truck. If your community has a Facebook group where announcements about these types of services are posted, watch for them. The more people interested in a delivery location, a company will add location stops.
It doesn’t cost a lot of money to have a garden, but it does cost sweat equity. Remember that when you are considering the costs of buying foods from others to preserve. Last August after we moved, we went to the big Farmer's Market in Atlanta. We took $100 to spend and only spent $80 on all of these goodies. There's a basket of summer squash beside the watermelon on the left.
That box of muscadines in the right corner of the picture turned into yummy jelly and syrup.
With these conveniences, preserving foods for a family doesn’t require having a garden spot. You too can preserve foods for your family to eat all year long.
Do you preserve foods for your family? What types of foods do you or would you like to preserve?