CHAPTER – The Food on Mars
October 5, 2107: Besides the ever present mushrooms the colony also
raised chickens, rabbits, turkeys, ducks and geese. There was a small heard of
goats but there wasn't enough for them to graze on. They produced a little milk
but Tim never knew what happened to that. There certainly wouldn't have been
enough to go around. Once in a while they would butcher a kid but Tim never
found out who got the meat, he suspected the kitchen staff as there would not
be enough fresh meat to go around either. They were getting enough frozen
meat from Earth to flavor their food but they seldom if ever had steak or roast
beef or any plain meat dish even hamburger. There always seemed to be
bacon sausage and once in a while, ham.
Tim looked up the two guys from the Scientific crew that were working
with the small experimental garden and ask them what all it would take to grow
enough vegetables to meet the needs of the community of now over six
hundred people. After some discussion the finally decided that they would need
about 160 acres of fertile irrigated land with adequate grow lights to raise
everything they needed.
In the early part of the twenty first century in the United States the rule of
thumb had been that it took one acre per person to provide food to the country.
Around 2025 The United States changed from a net food exporting country to a
net food importing country. In response to this development farmers became a
lot more efficient at food production. By 2107 the ratio had been reduced to half
an acre per person. Thanks largely to the more extensive use of hot houses for
growing vegetables. On Earth the growing season for most foods was still
seasonal. On Mars there were no seasons and all food could be grown year
around and around the clock. That meant that on Mars the ratio would be about
one quarter acre per person. That included the room that the animals required.
Tim had in mind that the entire area on the Company cavern behind the lake
and stream, which was approximately 320 acres would be the ideal place for
the farm. That would provide all the land that they would need to easily feed a
population of one thousand people. By the time that the population exceeded
one thousand they would have more land because more caverns would be
opened. Tim got a list of the fertilizers that would be needed to bring the
Martian soil to life and keep it producing for one year. They then worked out
just how many grow lights they would need to run a hothouse of that size. The
results were staggering but undaunted Tim spent his next day off working out a
requisition for the needed material and an estimate of how much was spent by
The Company and the Government to provide the community with canned
produce that nobody enjoyed eating. In his equation he allowed for six full time
gardeners. The conclusion reached is that it would be cheaper to raise their
own vegetables on Mars, a lot cheaper.
The next morning before work he gave a copy of his findings to Carter
and another copy to Thelma. The report was well received on Mars . Walter
and Thelma submitted an edited copy of Tim's report to The Company and the
government. Everyone agreed that was what should be done but they knew the
schedule and knew it would be about seven months before the requisitioned
items would arrive. They would just have to continue eating canned vegetables
October 5, 2107: Message received from Company on Earth. We have
planned a farm on Mars all along. Knowing you would have adequate electricity
soon we have already shipped your farm supplies, grow lights, equipment and
four farmers. They are now en route on Mars Supply Two and should arrive
around January 15, 2108.
October 10, 2107: Not completely satisfied with that Tim and Carter
gathered up all the grow lights they had and all the other lights that could be
converted to grow lights. They then cleaned out the goat pen, the rabbit pens
and the chicken pens and were able to set up a two acre test farm in The
Company cavern. Some of the people with gardening experience volunteered
and two of them were assigned as full time farmers.