Monday, August 18, 2014

Planting a Fruit/Nut Orchard and Edible Garden with Food Stamps (SNAP EBT)

My daughters and our homemade raised beds.

A while back we made 2 raised beds for a garden (the third in this picture never got finished) out of used lumber we had lying around. Back then we didn't know how we were going to furnish the soil or plants because we didn't have the means or the money to that we knew of. We just knew we wanted a garden and that we loved the idea of a raised bed garden to tide us over until our greenhouse was built and the aquaponics system was put in.

Then we got on Food Stamps (SNAP EBT) because my husband, Brian, has been out of work because of a disability (an orthostatic intolerance). We, like many other people on food stamps, did not know at first that we could buy food bearing/producing plants and seeds with our food stamps at the stores that accept them. We found out through a friend, that bought a salsa garden for himself with food stamps, that it was possible.

Our fruit orchard is taking shape.

We decided to test the system out and see if we could get larger food bearing/producing plants like trees and large bushes. We came home from Fred Meyer with three gorgeous Earliblue High Bush Blueberry Bushes, their last ones in stock. We also went to both local Walmarts subsequent days afterward and picked up 8 Heritage Red Raspberry plants, 4 thorn-less Sawtooth Blackberry plants, 3 Sweet Cherry trees, 1 Profusion Flowering Crab Apple tree, 2 Granny Smith Apple trees, 1 Honey Crisp Apple tree, and 1 Bartlett Pear tree all with our food stamps! My neighbor also gave us 2 Desert King Fig trees that are going in the ground soon.

Thorn-less Sawtooth Blackberry plants: we planted these in the kids area where the large trampoline is.

Blueberry bushes and raspberries.

We have ran into a few snags when using food stamps, unfortunately though. Some of the plants had been marked down and were in the discounted section. The tags showing the discount didn't ring up the plants as a food producer and so the checkout person had to find the original tag to the plant and then take the discount off manually. We also tried to buy two beautiful Semi-Dwarf Eureka Lemon trees (the common supermarket lemon variety) from Fred Meyer, but even though it is without a shadow of a doubt edible and was even growing fruit on both trees when we showed it to them we couldn't get them because the tag didn't indicate anywhere on it that it was an edible. Instead, it called the tree a "patio plant", indicating ornamental. We are still fighting this one. We also found that at the time we found out about this program it was a bit late in the season and a lot of the Spring stock of plants were picked over and already taken. Very few places that take food stamps also carry food bearing/producing plants. We wish more gardens with nurseries and farms that sell their plants would take EBT. We did find one in the area that wasn't a large chain store, called Pikku Farm in Woodland Washington, but we haven't been able to get a hold of them by phone yet.

The cashier at Fred Meyer cut the tops off large paper sacks and stuck the folded top into the bottom of the sack for transport.

We also picked up some Sage (Common, 2 Pineapple, and Blue), 2 plants of Basil, 6 Brussels Sprout plants, 6 Broccoli plants, 6 Rainbow Swiss Chard plants. These we planted in our raised beds full of aged manure and soil. Our friend gave us some beets from her garden to eat and some she pulled out with the large ones were too small and so we put them back into the ground in our raised beds along with a bunch of scallions that had the roots on them still. We already had a cherry tomato plant in the corner growing.

Raised bed gardens with the blueberries and raspberries in the background.

My daughters with the raised beds and the compost pile in the background.
I love that all this planting and growing our own food will help us never go hungry. We also are teaching our kids where food comes from and how to grow and harvest it. Soon we will have a sustainable orchard and garden all thanks to the SNAP Gardens: Food Stamps Grow Gardens program.


tawndam said...

*jawdrop* WHY don't they tell people???

Finamoon said...

I know, tawndam! I was just as astonished as you are. That is why I wrote this post. I wanted to inform others and spread the word because it is great knowledge to have and use when you can. I mean, I know that some people live in apartments or rent and cannot plant whole trees, but even with a small space there is room to have a small kitchen garden and you can get both food bearing plants and seeds with food stamps, which is wonderful!

Jana said...

Wow, I had no idea that you could build a garden with food stamps What a great sustainable tip to learn!

marlynn said...

What a beautiful garden! I love that you wrote this post, and hope more people are encouraged by this post to use their food stamps to buy food bearing plants. It's such a great gift to pass along to children, as well - having them participate in the process of planting and growing food

Monica Geglio said...

I did NOT know this... CRAZY! I am spreading the word... :)