We’ve created some rough estimates (Links to a Powerpoint) of what sort of yield, revenue, and environmental impact the farm will have in year one. Keep in mind that these projections were done by Alex, a political science major four years removed from any mathematics courses. Additionally, most of the projections assumed 1 acre of growing space, about 4 times the space that we actually were allowed to work.

Check back in December to laugh at how far off we were!!

Here’s a breakdown of how we did our calculations taken from our EcoAction grant proposal – the spreadsheet is here.:

The preliminary calculations attached are quite basic. The yield estimates were drawn from the New England Guide to Vegetable Management produced as a collaborative effort of members of the Extension Vegetable Programs of the Universities of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. From the original estimates (column B), we initially cut the yield values in half to simulate the reduced production of first year organic growing (column C), then reduced the yield by a factor of ten to establish an estimate for potential yield of each crop grown on 1/10th of an acre (column D). The proportion of land devoted to each crop is still negotiable and final plans for land use and organization will be established in conjunction with Chartwells. The revenue estimates were created as a product of the estimated yield by Chartwells’ current prices for conventional vegetables (column E). Column F demonstrates the predicted revenue for year one (with the reduced yield estimates) and column G estimates revenue for year three (with increased yield estimates).

We have relatively little information from which to accurately calculate carbon emissions and synthetic input reductions. Column H represents a rough calculation of transit distance for produce distributed by Sysco, the distributor that Charwells purchases from. Contact with Sara Scarfe, Sysco Regional Sales Representative, and Paul Nickerson, Sysco Produce Merchandising Manager, helped us generate data on how far the crops on our list travel from the supplier to the distributor. For example, lettuce is delivered mainly from growers in California, thus cell H3 represents the 3800 miles from central California to Wolfville. Assuming an average of 22.2 lbs of CO2 per gallon of diesel fuel (EPA Report, 2007), an average payload of a tractor trailer at 40,000lbs., and an average fuel efficiency for tractor trailers at 6 MPG, we arrive at column J, ((Hx/6)*22.2)*(Dx/40000)). Column J represents a calculation of how much carbon could be reduced by transportation only, not how much is reduced in farm production methods through tractors, refrigeration etc., thus the actual reduction would be greater than estimated.

A similar calculation is present in columns L and M to estimate the reduction of synthetic fertilizer. Again drawing from figures provided by the NE Vegetable Management Guide, we took the suggested fertilizer application rates for each crop (assuming a soil with ‘high’ nutrient value) and adjusted rates for the size of our plot. With our limited mathematical background, we’re unsure how to calculate probable pesticide usage as applications of pesticide are typically a response to a specific problem. Again, hopefully more accurate calculations can stem from incorporating farm measurement into the curriculum.

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The Acadia Community Farm began in the spring of 2008 with the vision of providing local, organic produce to the dining hall at Acadia University, while also serving as a community garden. The Farm has grown to become an educational community centre for the exchange of knowledge surrounding gardening, food, and sustainable agriculture. Explore the site to find out more or stop by the Farm for a visit!


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