Research conducted at Iowa State University by David Swenson has indicated that if 28 vegetables and fruits were grown more in the states of Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois and Wisconsin the impact of such an increase on the local economy could be very significant. Mr. Swenson’s research paper states small parcels of land can be used to supply fruits and vegetables to Midwestern towns and cities. One such statistic is that less than 100 acres of land can generate produce for a town of 10,000.
He says fulfilling the six state region’s produce demand annually could be accomplished with 270,025 acres of cropland, or roughly the eqivalent size of one county in Iowa. In his model, the produce grown on those acres could equate to $882 million dollars of sales directly from farms, and three billion at retail outlets. The study also proposes that if half of the produce was sold by
farmers directly, there would be a need to create 9,652 jobs which in turn would supply over $260 million in worker incomes.
Another startling find according to the research: Wisconsin has about 75 percent of its cropland in sweet corn and potatoes. That’s a lot of land for two vegetables. Minnesota and Michigan have a similar focus using much land for the same purposes. Michigan, however, already has a diverse fruit and vegetable production; enough to be a national player in that sector economically.
The research project covered production of apricots, asparagus, mustard greens, bell peppers, onions, broccoli, peaches, cabbage, pears, cantaloupe, plums, carrots, raspberries, cauliflower, snap beans, collard greens, spinach, cucumbers, squash, eggplant, strawberries, garlic, sweet potatoes, kale, tomatoes, watermelon and lettuce.
Also, how much produce could be created by small family farms, or even backyard gardens with more local organization and perhaps tax incentives?
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