Using Your Garden to Help Pay for College Part 1 of 2

Part 1 of  2

After WWII, my grandparents bought a used Army bus and converted it into a mobile grocery market.  My grandparents were solving the problem of food deserts before the term was coined.

Suppose it was in our blood to do the same. Deliver the good stuff, right to the people.

About 7-8 years ago my kids started their own mobile green grocery store with the extra pumpkins grandpa had grown for them. Their mobile market was a little red wagon and their customers, gracious neighbors.

Ligtbulb moment.

Making a few bucks off pumpkins several years ago has evolved into our own CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) of sorts. We sell veggies and a little bit of fruit by the box each week to a set list of people who want our fresh, home-grown love. Proceeds go toward college.

  • My kiddos use my garden (and my dad's) to help pay for college as they pick produce and deliver it each week to their customers.
  • Here are the deets on our College Savings Garden Boxes the kiddos sell to our gracious friends and neighbors.
  • Produce is picked by the entire family once a week from our garden and at my parent’s house.
  • Everything that is fresh and ready to go that week gets divided up equally into the boxes - think seasonal, low-carbon foot print micro-farm.
  • Boxes are delivered – not only does it ensure I’m not babysitting boxes of produce with no room in the fridge should someone forget to pick it up, it creates a real connection with the people who receive the tasty garden treasures.  I’m told people love our boxes as much as they love the visit with the delivery. Yes, it takes longer but it’s time well spent.
  • Money is piled up. We charge $10 per box and deliver 9-11 boxes weekly depending on availability of customers and if we have “back up homes” for the boxes. I have been told more than once by more than one customer we don't charge enough. *Shrugs*
  • A weekly box can be too much for some families so we do have a few who get them every other week.
  • Our season begins in early June with just bags of peas (shelling and snap) - $2.50 for quart bags stuffed full(actually sold $10 gallon bags this year too).
  • Boxes start around mid-June with a handful of anxious regular customers until we can put together the volume needed to start delivering to everyone around mid-late July. The picking ends when the frost hits.
  • If the kiddos don’t help pick they don’t get paid. Our first grader may only net $20 this year because he only likes to help deliver. His sisters are totally cool with not having to share too much with him. They have math skills.

Kids are bitten by mosquitos, fight over who is picking what, take too long to pick the green beans, eat gobs of blackberries when they should be picking and are learning how to sweat until the job is all the way done.

With peas and box delivery the kiddos counted up over $700 last night. We still have 5-ish weeks to go in the season and will easily surpass our goal of $1000 a season.

We are able to do this because we have refined the process over the last several years. Start with a wagon full of extras, evolve to a few boxes and see what you have the energy and time to support.

Next Tuesday's post will be about what is actually in a box, an excellent idea if you only have time and space for one "crop", how to make money with produce without having a garden and how I tricked my kiddos into having a tangible feel for how much college costs.

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Happy Growing!