Friday, March 2, 2012

Garden Challenge

In a recent KC Star article, a challenge was issued for people to live on their hypothetical food stamp allocation for a week.  The amount?  $4.50/person/day.  For our family, that'd be $157.50 for a week's worth of groceries.  The challenge also included a push to donate the remaining money left in your normal food budget to a local charity.

I wanted to participate. The big issue?  Our grocery budget is already that low.  We average $125/week.  Before you tell me that my little kids don't cost me that much because they weigh less than 35 lb a piece, let me remind you that they eat more than I do at some meals.  My son can pack down a chicken breast, a load of veggies, and some rice in one sitting, and he's only 14 months old.  Sure, they're not teenagers yet (thank goodness for that), but these kids eat a lot of food!

Anywho, since I couldn't participate in this particular challenge in a meaningful way,  I tried to come up with a fun spin for the Kiefer Cottage.  And it came to me last night after I had been talking to the broccoli seedlings in the basement.

We're going to grow as much food as we can on our little plot this summer.  Why not donate all the money we *don't* spend at the grocery store to a charity we believe in?

Ryan and I support Heifer International. For Christmas this year, we decided to take all of the money allocated toward gifts for the adults in our lives and give it to this charity. We spent the same we would have on gifts. And we'll give some more with this new gardening plan.

Why am I talking about this now instead of in the summer?  'Cause I'd like you to consider joining me!   And right now is the best time to start digging up beds, starting seeds, or least making a plan (for those in colder climates).


Clean out that unused space and get your compost pile started!

In progress.


Say Bye-bye to the invasive vines (damn morning glories!!).

In progress.

Dust off the gardening equipment and start digging, shifting, working, moving, rolling.

In progress.
Before anyone says it, I know that gardening is not necessarily cheap.  Getting started can be downright expensive, especially if you don't have *any tool* to begin with.  Use Craigslist, trashpiles, bartering with neighbors... do your best.

So you may not save a lot of money once you take all the start-up costs into consideration.  But we've decided that we're not counting our gardening expenses toward the grocery totals this summer.  Seems a little too nit picky, and while we're always pinching pennies, I'd prefer to fall on the more generous side of the line than worry about whether that tomato was actually "free" or cost me $40 in soil, tools, and water.

Ryan here. So where's the leaping cow charity come in to play? Every week, we'll have a look at what we saved on groceries because we pulled it out of our own garden, and we'll toss that money at the Heifers (we'll calculate based on a budget of $150/week for food). This is a risky plan as we've never gardened in this climate or soil before and there's a very real chance our gardens will produce nothing but weeds and pretty but inedible perennial flowers whose bulbs we failed to dig up.

The labor is only nearly back-breaking (if it truly broke our backs, where would we be, hmm?), and what fails to put us in the ground makes us more strapping, so my back is now carved from stone. So there's that benefit, too, apart from the smug satisfaction warm fuzzies we get from buying a baby goat for a family in Côte d'Ivoire.

Now, on to our invitation to join. You may notice a cool little gadget on the right hand pane toward the bottom. It's a direct link to donate to Heifer International, and you should use it (if you do not already participate in charitable giving). If you don't, we encourage you to support one of the other many worthwhile charities out there. It's quite easy to find one that fights whatever it is that makes you angry about the world. Heifer is a natural for the Kiefer-Aarons because we love food so very, very much (and if that's news to you, you must be new around here, so please say hi!). The thought of people going hungry in the world when we live in such relative abundance just breaks our hearts.

With that in mind, we commit to donating *at least* a goat ($120) to Heifer International by the end of August, even if our garden doesn't save us one penny.  I hope you'll join us in your own way.


  1. This is fabulous idea!!

    This summer we are applying to participate in a CSA, but at some point I do want to spend the time and money to have raised veggie garden beds (hopefully Spring 2013). Hopefully you'll do this again next year and I can join in on the fun then!

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