Amos Meeks and I have come up with a design for an off-the-shelf Farmpunk kit. The purpose of this kit would be to create an easy and trendy way for middle class suburban people to create backyard farms and join the farmpunk movement, improving the food security of their household and community. It would consolidate everything they need into one convenient and easy to buy package.
There would be two sizes - a small, compact kit, and a larger kit. The small size would be intended as a hook - a method to get people who are dirt-fearful into the gardening scene. The larger size would be a step up, including more tools, dirt, and seeds from what's contained in the small size. Presumably, if you go for the larger kit, you already own items similar to what's in the small kit - if not, you can buy the small kit itself, or invest in the tools you need that are sold individually by the same company at the same vendor.
The small size is intended to be roughly the size of a cereal box, or roughly 3"x10"x12" or so. The intended usage, based on the size, would be to get people into small container gardening or very small scale yard gardening to start.
The larger size would likely be the size of a small, plastic tote - I'm thinking about 2'x1'x1'. The intent behind it would be to get people to go outside and start breaking the soil in their backyards and get going on some serious yard-farming, hopefully while maintaining container gardens indoors.
Both kits would contain the following:
A physical book with a general plan for your backyard farm as well as info on making good soil, where to plant, when to plant, watering, wet and dry cycles, soil types, sun amounts, and plant growth in general. Along with this would be an online component with more detailed information, a farmpunk network, and a crowdsourced farmpunk encyclopedia.
This size kit's manual would have information on container gardening. Light levels in the home, the importance of moisture regulation, and feasible indoor or porch plants.
Depending on the tools included, this would contain extended information on their uses and
care. It would also go into depth on the seeds and soil amendment contained, as well as
slightly more advanced information. Basics, like mixing and amending your own soil, would
still be included, as well as a reference to the online compendium.
Estimated cost: $5 - paperback, reduced binding to save costs
Soil and/or a soil amendment
A sample of soil, fertilizer, hydration compound, etc provided by some sort of sponsor. Amount would depend on the size of the kit. Hopefully there would be a sponsor that would provide this, and if the farmer wanted to get more they could buy from the sponsor.
The product contained in the small kit would be intended as a sample only, to expose
the buyer to potential products if they decide to garden on a larger scale.
The product contained in the large kit would be intended for outdoor use. There would be
referrals and suggestions for other, related products made by the same company included.
Estimated cost: $0 - assuming the sponsor provides not only the material, but covers the packaging and shipping costs as well
Specific seeds would depend on the kit variety, could be fruits, vegetables, flowering plants,
Since the intent behind this kit is to get people into container gardening to start, the seeds
contained would likely focus on herbs and other potted veg and fruits - tomatoes, etc.
The first step of any gardening attempt is to take stock of the soil and, if it is found to be
suboptimal, to enhance it if you can. Beans are used to convert nitrogen into a form useable
by plants, and so a healthy amount of legume seeds would be included as a way to amend
the soil in that nature before serious gardening took place. More substantial food seeds
would be included, such as squash, potatoes, lettuces, etc. Subsequent seed stocks could be obtained via seed collection from this beginning provision.
Estimated cost: $10-20
These tools would be made to be small and collapsible, so as to fit in the kit, but also as durable as possible. This would probably take the most innovation of the kit, and is what would separate it from merely a conglomeration of pre-existing products.
- Medium: Some mixture of or at least Buyer incentives for a shovel, spade, hoe, hose, water wand, etc
Estimated Cost: $20
Purchase of these kits would entitle the buyer to a free or reduced cost set of planting containers of a predetermined size and shape, as well as a watering can and package of potting soil under the same parameters. The cost reduction would not apply to purchases that do not include the planting kit. All would be sold by the same merchant, located near the planting kits. This way, if you have no materials whatsoever, you're well enabled to buy the materials you need at a discounted price, but if you've already got things like pots and potting soil, it's not necessary to buy the additional supplies. This also reduces the size of the kit itself.
Total cost: $35-45
This would hopefully be cheap enough that most middle class families would want to buy it. In addition, it should pay for itself over time for those who invest in it and use it, all the while being environmentally friendly and improving food security!
Like any good commercial object, it could have possible accessories and add-ons. Apart from the tools you could buy in addition to the kit, you could get things like small, collapsible or easily built greenhouses for your backyard, a hydroponics farming kit, or maybe even someday an indoor/vertical farming kit.
As mentioned previously, Amos Meeks and I both worked on this idea. He conceptualized it, and came to me for help with fleshing the idea out. If you have any ideas on how to improve this idea, let us know!