When your cup is full, it overflows. When a family’s needs are well met by a farm, generosity springs up naturally. There was a time when sharing a farm’s surplus was the norm. It was not only gifted to the needy, it was also part of the payment for all kinds of services that a farmer used besides regular farm labour: vetinirary, carpentry, post harvest work, personal house work, painting etc.
We’d like to define what is surplus a little more specifically here: It is not what is left after allocating 98% for the market. Since market takes a backseat in our style of farming, surplus for us is everything that is available after we allocate for our own consumption. So if we consume say, 5% of the fruits we grow, the rest is all game for creative distribution, of which, market is just one channel. Even if buyers come to us, we might put forth conditions to them that they have never faced before: gift a small percentage of fruits to people who cannot afford it; distribute our health booklets along with selling the fruits; increase your own fruit intake in your daily diet; make compost out of unsold and over ripened fruits… you get the idea.
We are also thinking of training small groups of people to take our farm produce, learn a skill to add value to the produce and make a living. For example: Make plates from arecanut leaves, jams and juices from fruits, canopies from coconut leaves, oils from coconut and other grains, mats from jute, ropes from hemp etc.
Will any of these be possible? We don’t know but we’ll try for sure.
For now, the vegetable surplus is going to a couple of needy families in the neighbourhood and they offer their services for free when it comes to cleaning grains and pulses from the farm. A day laborer who almost lost his eyes because of acute, undetected diabetes takes our surplus corn and happily gives his quota of subsidized rice for the consumption of our construction workers.