Mezzacello is a cooperative urban farm. Rick does pretty and I am Production. Two ‘P’s in a pod. Rick and I have evolved and developed a system for growing maintaining, sustaining, and explaining our mission. As the active growing season comes to a close with Autumn we approach what is our Achilles Heel in our mission; preservation and sustainability. In the Mezzacello cooperative I grow things like food, compost, animals, manure, water, engineered systems, soil, meat, and eggs. Rick prepares food and optimizes layouts and makes choices that feedback into my systems. Grow these crops as I can optimize yield and make a variety of meals. I grow it, Rick then cooks terrific meals and the system comes full circle. We both share responsibility for food preservation and our game is weak.

A quick morning harvest. Jim Bruner | Mezzacello
Wire bin storage units, wall mounted, climate controlled and moisture managed. Jim Bruner | Mezzacello

In years previous we have experimented with different strategies for food storage. We have had many failures. I own that. This year we have thought strategically about what crops we planted, what we planted in (#ProjectMartian)  and now how we will store, process or use the maximum yield we can. This has manifested in many ways. Better investment in equipment, resources, and storage: shredders, blenders, dehydrators, vacuum sealing, and additional dry, canned, and freezer space and dehumidifiers and Air Conditioners. Or changes in how often we water, check and harvest the gardens. This year we planted and harvested and then planted successive harvests or culling greens on root crops. Then there is the storing.

We have multiple constraints though. Our electrical system in our 152 year old house won’t handle any more electrical draws. Then there is reaction time at harvest. Did you check what was ready? When you harvest will you also have time and resources to process? If not, can you safely stage it until you can? What is your strategy for optimizing the food you do collect and how will you use the food that goes to waste? It’s an adventure and one is always learning. After all, the last thing you want on Mars is to waste precious food and water!

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