Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Urban Sharecropping

Many people now foresee the need to acquire personal food security, but do not have an adequate space to garden. Other people are interested in the economic advantages of being a food producer in the upcoming times of food shortages, but again, are stuck in the city with no real land to begin growing on.

Sharecropping is a potential solution to the problem of lack of personal wealth, capital, or land. In short, you don't have to own your own farm, or even your own equipment, to become a farmer. Sharecropping means that you rent someone else's land to produce the food on. The rent can be a cash payment, or, more traditionally, cutting the land owner in on a share of the profit when the harvest is sold. Or you can simply offer them a certain amount of the food harvested.

Usually, the percent you pay to the landowner depends of how much you bring to the table versus how much they are supplying, in terms of equipment and supplies. Sharecropping as a widespread economic feature of American pretty much died off in the first half of the 20th century, so there is no comparative market today. In short, you will just have to negotiate with whoever you can, and come to any agreement that seems reasonable.

For example, in the ritzy part of your town, there are well-off people living on large plots of land, who are growing nothing but grass. You could approach them and ask if you could grow food on their property. They might be willing to do so, merely for the promise of the fresh organic vegetables you will grow. If they are enthusiastic about it, they might even cover the cost of a tiller, or let you use their tools, or cover the cost of your seeds or fertilizer, or whatever. You can easily imagine how this would work, and the possible benefits for all parties. Good luck, and let me know what systems you work out.

In short, just because you are young and poor does not mean you cannot join in the urban food revolution. Becoming a sharecropper could also be a wise choice if your are otherwise unemployed. Instead of sitting around all day doing nothing, get out and get some economically productive work done. It will also get you out in the community, meeting people, and establishing networks of support, which might prove vital in tough times, or an emergency.

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