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Calfornia's Drought Could Be Your Cash Crop

Updated on February 22, 2014

Fast Growing, Income Producing Local Crops

Colorado has marijuana and California has… well, what California doesn’t have, at least on a large scale is water. So, with California in a severe drought and with water restrictions tightening, how can this possibly help the average Californian make a few extra dollars?

Locavores Will Dominate

A locavore is a local area grower. California farmers produce up to 1/3 of the nation’s food and produce. With the current drought conditions, local fruit and produce is expected to increase in price by as much as 60% this summer.

If you’ve ever grown your own tomatoes or have a lemon tree like my parents, you could be sitting on a miniature gold mine. In California, lemons sell anywhere from .50 to .99 per lemon.

My parents have so many lemons falling on the ground in their backyard, that it’s not uncommon for my retired father to make monthly trips delivering bags of lemons to friends and relatives, all for free.

As a child, we grew up with so many fruit producing trees in our backyard that the thought of looking forward to fall was a dim prospect. As children, my siblings and I knew that the fall season meant endless jars of homemade canned or jarred fruits.

Peaches, plumbs, orange marmalade, grape and pear jams were given to any wayward stranger, guest or family member whom made their way to our front door.

With this drought comes opportunity to tend to your gardens or plant a new crop, or should I say a cash crop. In the movie classic, “The Yearling”, the Baxter family is 100% dependent on what they can grow and sell. For those of you under 50, it doesn’t end well for the yearling that starts eating into their crops and as a result, their food supply and subsequent income.

Farmer Markets

Farmer markets have always been a great way for local growers and farmers to sell their produces and cheese since the turn of the last century.

What has changed most recently is that these growers are actually less likely to be actual farmers but local residents that grow additional food for fun and or profit.

Depending on what part of the country you are in, you can rent a booth for as little as $40 for the day or upwards of $150.

Taking advantage of California’s drought plight would be akin to the smartest girl scout that every walked the face of the Earth. You know the one I mean, the little girl who set up her Girl Scout cookie stand outside of a medical marijuana dispensary and sold 175 boxes of cookies in 2 hours!

She knew what every savvy entrepreneur knows, that location and timing are everything!

So becoming a local grower for produce that you know in advance, (because I am telling you know) and so has every local national and news channel for the last 4 weeks, that the cost of fruit, produce and milk will increase by 60% this year alone.

Ok, I am drawing you a map. Grow fruit people want and expect. Sell it at a local Farmer Market and make some extra cash. I don’t think that I can light that sentence on fire but, I am pretty sure you get the gist of what I am saying.

Do you homework, if you’d like to jump into this venture, some fruits will not be affected this year but, will be impacted more so next year.

We’re throwing in our 2 cents on a few fast growing crops, that are popular in California and a few items that offer a pleasant twist or variation on the norm. Yes, water rationing is a fact of life during a drought, so we’ve made a few suggests for drought tolerant and hardy produce to grow and harvest.

Strawberries

Strawberries are one of the most popular summer fruits in California. Strawberries are in everything during the summer in California from lemonade to margaritas to the most basic deserts like Vanilla ice cream topped with fresh strawberries.

The Earliglow Strawberry is an heirloom variety of strawberry that is still prized for its robust strawberry flavor, early harvest and hardy nature. A patch of these in your garden will ensure a carefree source of sweet berries long before other varieties have ripened.

While many berries are still struggling to ripen, your Earliglow will beckon to you, their sweet, juicy goodness just ready and waiting for you to harvest!

Not only do Earliglow Strawberries set and ripen earlier than any other strawberry, but they are also wonderfully sweet, freeze well and are terrific for preserves and other culinary delights.

The plants are cold-hardy, so you won’t have to worry as much when the weather is uncooperative, and they have good drought and pest resistance.

Earliglow stands up well to humidity and heat, and is very disease resistant as well. The plants are self-pollinating, so you can have just a few if you prefer.

All in all, Earliglow Strawberry is an exceptional, heirloom variety that will stand up to many gardening concerns, and still produce sumptuous fruit early in the season.

Strawberries are expected to fetch upwards of $4/per pound this summer. A 25 pack of Earliglow seeds normally retails for $60 but you can get them now at 50% off, just by reading this article and acting now, before the sale ends.

Black Raspberries

What better way to attract new customers, then to offer then something unique and out of the ordinary. The Raspberry 'Jewel Black', Rubus idaeus 'Jewel', is an ever bearing, fast growing raspberry vine. The blue-black fruits are large and sweet, containing few seeds. 'Jewel Black' ripens from June through October. The fruit ripens from red to black in color. It is reliable, hardy, and withstands cold winters.

Black raspberries are the first raspberries to ripen in the spring. Jewel's rich flavor makes it an excellent choice for use in jams and jellies. This is a self-pollinating variety, so it doesn't require a second plant nearby to set fruit.

Jewel Black' will require regular care and upkeep. It is best to cut back all dead and two-year old canes to the ground in the spring, leaving only last year's growth standing. It prefers to grow in average to moist conditions, and shouldn't be allowed to dry out.

The Jewel should be planted in highly organic soil and the soil should be well drained. The ideal soil pH should be 5.8 to 6.5. Raspberries are rich source of vitamin C and they are high in manganese. They are also very high in dietary fiber. Eat them for taste and health!

Give new customers a sample of your freshly harvested berries and a flyer for a discount with the recipe for Black Raspberry Lemonade, because the will be back. Can you say Ka-Ching!

The best thing about offering something relatively unique is that there is no set market and you can probably set your own pricing, as you are more than likely to be much cheaper than the grocery store chains. Available at half off. Now $19.95

Gold Raspberries

We like these raspberries for the same reasons, we explained about the “Black Raspberries”.

Creating a sense of the unusual or unique, will keep customers not only looking for your particular variety of fruits that other local vendors are unlikely to carry but, make your local farmers market stand, much more profitable. Fall Gold Raspberry is an ever bearing raspberry bush with delicious, gold-colored fruit. Plant several along a fence row, or just a few near a patio where you can enjoy them right from your lounge chair. Can you imagine anything more delicious than fresh raspberries right off your own bush, and not just once a season—but twice!

These Fall Gold raspberries are just as sweet as the red varieties yet also have the conversation-starting feature of an exotic, golden hue (a rare color in a raspberry bush’s fruit). The flavor of your Fall Gold is a perfect balance of sweet and acid, with a juicy nature and subtle, fruity fragrance. If you’re a berry-lover, than you won’t want to miss out on this extraordinary raspberry!

Fall Gold Raspberries are excellent fresh off of the plant, or used in canning or preserves. Raspberries are rich source of not only antioxidants, but also vitamin C, manganese and dietary fiber. You’ll want to eat these for both taste and health!

Fall Gold Raspberry is an upright, thorny shrub growing to about 36-inches in height. It’s considered “ever bearing” because it produces two crops on each biennial cane, unless pruned otherwise.

Fall Gold produces a fall crop on the top 1/3 of the canes and a second crop the following spring on the bottom 2/3 of the canes. It’s an extremely hardy plant, and cold tolerant of temperatures to 25 degrees below zero.

If you love raspberries, then you can’t go wrong with Fall Gold. Hardy, healthy and unique, Fall Gold will certainly be a pleasure to have in your yard this year! These beauties are sold in a container pot and are currently marked down 50% from $40 to $19.95

If you have avocado trees in your backyard, consider adding a second fruit bearing produce to build variety and increase your sales. Better yet, partner with neighbors of family that have other types of fruits for an even bigger offer.

Show your kids and or grand kids that the power of a “traditional lemonade stand” still works.

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