The viability of any food-growing project could be judged on two distinctly different levels. Attempts to guarantee supply to the growers themselves should be accepted as the first priority and a precursor to any efforts at commercial production. The majority of new entrants to organic growing have highly restricted access to growing space and are unlikely to be able to produce crops surplus to their own requirements for several years. Acceptance of this pattern of operation helps to guarantee that the motivation of participants is maintained over a long period.

This would also help develop growers who are competent to produce a wide diversity of crops providing a continuity of supply over the year, rather than the typical constraints of commercial production, such as specialisation in a minimum range of crops.

Some element of self-sufficiency should be regarded as a precursor to income-generating activities, which can only be considered where relatively abundant over-production can be guaranteed. Even where conditions favourable to small-scale producers are present, such as if there are many other growers nearby or if especially favourable markets exist, growers can only be expected to gradually increase their output, dependant on their ability to access the usual means of production; land, capital and expertise.

The productivity of any given grower and site could approximately be doubled if the grower is or can be resident on site, compared to having to travel from home to garden.

There are an enormous variety of occupations which could be derived from increased investment in the organic sector. There is, however, a danger that subsidies to organics could displace existing jobs in the horticultural supply industries, thereby antagonising existing providers. This should be avoided by targeting areas of activity which are not catered for at present.


Extract from SOFI – its formation 1998