Formula for Determining the Value of Crops Produced in Community Gardens
Libby J. Goldstein
phone & fax: 215-465-8878
May 24, 1998
Everyone seems to be asking how to figure out the value of crops produced in their community gardens.
This formula was developed by USDA and the National Gardening Association in 1981 at which time it very closely approximated values determined by weighing each harvest (from one garden plot) and pricing the crop (-s) harvested at local markets and or farmers' markets over an entire season. Rick Gomez at USDA now suggests multiplying the result by 2 to account for inflation since '81.
Area x Crop Density x Crop Quality x Length of Season = Value in $
AREA is the square footage in actual crops (excluding paths, walkways, flower beds, etc).
CROP DENSITY is the factor for distance between rows. The factors are:
less than 1 ft (beds or wide rows) =1.25 1' to less than 2' =1.00 2' to less than 3' =0.85 3' or more =0.70
CROP QUALITY is the factor that describes productivity, ie. are the plants healthy and green, buggy, full of holes; will they be harvestable? The factors are:
very good .9 good .7 fair .4 poor .25
LENGTH OF SEASON is the factor that accounts for frost free days. The factors are:
300 or more days 1.2 less than 300 days 1.0
I hope this helps. It takes some training for folk to be able to evaluate the crops, and the first year area measurements may be time consuming to say the least, but it does get easier as time goes by...if you have enough staff or voluteers to survey all of your gardens. However, if every one were to adopt the formula, all of our production figures would be comparable (or comparably off).
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