Originally published at Growstuff Blog. You can comment here or there.
How much food can you produce in a home garden? How efficient is small-scale food production compared to mainstream farming? Can you live off what you grow in an ordinary suburban block?
I’m very excited to announce that Growstuff is going to be collaborating with Permaculture Melbourne on a project to study how productive home food gardens can be. It’s called the Harvest Benchmarking Project, and Permaculture Melbourne have received a grant from Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs to do it. At first they were asking gardeners to use pencil and paper to track their harvests, but with Growstuff’s help, they’ll be able to gather data online, not just from their members locally, but from Growstuff’s members worldwide.
“We want to find what the best gardeners can produce on their plots of land,” says John McKenzie from Permaculture Melbourne. “This becomes a benchmark for their area. The benchmarking project is hoping to indicate the power of urban gardening. If 20% of households could grow at the benchmark rate, then how much food could an urban community produce? We think it’s a huge amount. We think there’s an urban food production industry waiting to be recognised.”
Weighing harvested vegetables using a digital luggage scale.
Growstuff’s work on this project will be partly funded from Permaculture Melbourne’s grant, but we’re also fundraising from our wider community to support it. If you’d like to contribute $10 or more, join Growstuff then buy a paid membership quoting the code HARVEST2013 when you checkout. We are hoping to raise $1500 or more, which will help keep Growstuff running and make free, Creative Commons licensed harvest data available long-term.
Growstuff folks might recall that harvests were already listed on our roadmap for 2013. From our point of view, what this project means is that we’ll move harvests to the top of the list, and that we’ll have a real use case to focus on, which will help us understand exactly what to build.
For the next month or so, we’ll be working alongside Permaculture Melbourne to build the following features into Growstuff:
- The ability to record harvests through a simple web form, much as you can already track what you’ve planted on Growstuff.
- In addition to tracking your harvest of any of the almost 300 crops in our crop database, you’ll also be able to track “other” crops that aren’t yet available on our systems (this will also be applied tracking what you plant).
- Harvests will be shown alongside plantings on the site, for instance on our crop pages.
- Tracking the size of your garden (in square metres or feet) to help calculate productivity.
- You’ll be able to download a CSV data dump of all harvests across the site (you can open this in Excel or the spreadsheet app of your choice).
- Harvest data will also be available via our API and RSS feeds.
We expect that you’ll be able to sign in and track your harvests in a matter of weeks. To be notified when it’s ready, sign up for Growstuff or follow us on Twitter.
All our code is open source and of course is available on Github, or if you’d like to see how it’s all proceeding, search for “label:harvest-benchmarks” on our task tracker.
For more information, contact Alex/Growstuff at email@example.com or John McKenzie/Permaculture Melbourne at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And remember, to support this project, Buy a Growstuff membership using referral code HARVEST2013.