SPIN-Farming at Georgia Organics Conference 2017

You have a calling to farm but …you have no land, no money, no experience.                                              No Problem! Be a SPIN farmer!  

Learn how to start a first year income-producing farm in the city, suburbs or small town without huge investment and without having to own any land with SPIN-Farming  at this year’s Georgia Organics conference Friday. February 17, 2pm – 5 pm.  Register at conference.georgiaorganics.org

Workshop Title                                                                                                                       SPIN-Farming: How It Works and What You Can Achieve

Workshop Description
Learn the basics of SPIN (s-mall p-lot in-tensive) Farming, an easy-to-replicate, non-technical, organic-based vegetable farming system that makes it possible to earn $50,000+gross from 20,000 sq.ft.

Learning Objectives
1. How to greatly reduce the amount of land you need to 20,000 sq. ft. or less
2. How to get land without having to buy it
3. How to make minimal investment
4. How to design a sub-acre land base to get maximum yields and income
5. How to manage the workflow of an owner/operated farm without outside labor
6. How to identify and choose sales channels
7. How to set pricing strategies for your produce
8. How to use SPIN’s relay growing technique to multiply revenue 2,3 or more times from the same plot
9. How to use SPIN’s benchmarks to set measurable goals to continually gauge your progress and make small,continual course corrections throughout the season

Leave with the SPIN planning formula for calculating how much land you need, and how many units you need to produce, to achieve your 2017 revenue target.

Workshop Instructor                                                                                                              Lee McBride  

Lee McBride is a Technical Assistance Provider at Crotovina, where he works individually with about fifteen beginning farmers and ranchers, providing farm-specific assistance on everything from production methods to accessing capital and equipment to dealing with regulations and paperwork.

Lee found SPIN-Farming in 2006 and it became the impetus for his garden coaching and farm mentoring career. After implementing the SPIN methods slowly, over time, at the CASA Community Garden in Huntsville AL and proving the concepts, Lee believes SPIN is the one method that can feed people and create economic opportunity all over the south. He became a SPIN-Farming isntructor in 2011.

Lee has worked with over one hundred fifty farmers, many of whom are new and beginning farmers from all backgrounds for the past seven years in Alabama. As the Local Food Coordinator and as Director of Local Food for the North Alabama Farm Food Collaborative, Lee helped 21 farmers achieve Harmonized GAP certification. While working with support organizations such as Cooperative Extension to develop training materials to help farmers maintain the food safety certifications.

See why using a performance-based system like SPIN-Farming increases your chances of success by keeping you focused on just what matters most to establishing and operating a business.

Launch a farm business in a way that  is:  $ Affordable   $ Manageable   $ Scalable  with SPIN-Farming.

Register today at conference.georgiaorganics.org

By making farm startup fast and easy, SPIN-Farming opens up the profession to many more people who otherwise wold not think it was an option for them.

By making farm startup fast and easy, SPIN-Farming opens up the profession to many more people who otherwise wold not think it was an option for them.

About the Georgia Organics Conference
The Annual Georgia Organics Conference and Expo is one of the largest of its kind in the Southeast.

More than 1,000+ Conference attendees connect with like-minded peers, tour farms, cultivate new skills, and discover more than 70 partners’ exhibit booths with innovative food-and agriculture-related information that will build stronger farms, school gardens, and communities.

One-on-one consulting sessions, farmers-only farm tours, full-day outdoor workshops, the incredible Farmers Feast with some of ATL’s best chefs, and not one but TWO keynote speakers.

Register today at conference.georgiaorganics.org

Priority # 1 in Year 1

Courtesy of Wally S., Wally’s Urban Market Garden, Saskatoon SK

If my email is any indication, 2017 might produce another bumper crop of new farmers. Those who are finding their way to me for advice come well-equipped with best practices and lengthy to-do lists. Very little of it has to do with making a go of it as a business. My advice is to keep an open mind about the farming industry’s sacred cows. Here are five that first-year farmers sometimes spend far too much energy on.

Composting
Composting is a multi-year process. Segment size production areas will need hundreds of pounds of finished compost. Larger areas, even more. You can start the process in year 1 if you have the space, but you certainly should not feel like a failure if you don’t. And you certainly shouldn’t aim to meet all your soil prep needs by closing any loops. Other soil natural amendments can be used before your composting gets up to speed, and fine tuning your operation’s inputs versus outputs equation can’t be figured out in your first year. You can ease into composting with a modest setup which might include four
or five 4 ‘ by 4 ‘ by 4 ‘ feet bins. Wooden packing crates you can get for free will get you off to a great start.

Seed saving
Seed saving is another worthy practice, but it takes years to develop substantial amounts of seed. Again, you can learn the process and pick up on other’s experience, but for your first few years don’t create extra pressure by trying to aim to become your own seed supplier.

Season extension
This is an obsession that has grown in recent years. But starting out you should beware of anything that will add complexity to your operation – and structures that require significant expense and specialized expertise make production more challenging. Instead, try extending your season with strategic crop selection – choosing crops that do well in cool weather conditions, timing of plantings, frost tolerance. You will be surprised with how far “simple” growing will take you.

Rain water harvesting
Rain water harvesting is another worthy practice, but consider this. Elaborate water harvesting systems can increase efficiency – until they break down or malfunction. And they require investment, specialized knowledge and time to set up. It’s better to start simply and perfect more sophisticated systems over several years. Very basic watering methods using only a hose and some hardware store valves is all you need to start.

Cover cropping
Cover cropping can be important for weed control and soil building. But on typical SPIN-scale plots, it really isn’t practical. On larger areas it can also be difficult to work the crops back into the soil if you don’t have the right equipment. So proceed slowly, getting familiar with various techniques. In the meantime, use alternate methods that are much
simpler, like scuffle hoeing an area when the weeds are still at an early stage for weed control, and use local “feed store“ fertilizers like alfalfa pellets, blood meal and oil seed meals for soil building.

What should be the priorities of a first year farmer? There’s only one. Production. You need to develop the ability to grow consistently, in significant volume, at commercial grade. Few master it in year 1. If you also try to make your farm a showplace for all the latest and greatest farming practices, you might never master it at all. And a farm that’s not
producing is just a heap of compost. So keep those emails coming. I can pretty much guarantee you’ll end up with a shorter 2017 to-do list than what you start with.

Maximizing production from small plots is what SPIN-Farming is all about. Relays is how you do that.

Maximizing production from small plots is what SPIN-Farming is all about. Relays is how you do that.

GET MORE IDEAS ON HOW TO MAXIMIZE YOUR PRODUCTION IN THE SPIN ONLINE SUPPORT GROUP WHICH IS FREE WITH THE PURCHASE OF ANY SPIN GUIDE. GROW AMBITIOUSLY.

 

Entrepreneur in Training Opportunity

A deluxe model SPIN farm in Detroit MI seeks an operator.

Run a dream farm without having to pay to build it. That’s what this first-of-its-kind program offers.

Penrose Market Garden, now entering its second season, provides complete top-of-the-line infrastructure, housing in an architect-designed farm house, an established on site farm stand and customer base. 2017 sales expansion channels include a salad CSA and an additional farmer’s market.

Last year Penrose Market Garden grossed $15k on 2,500 sq.ft. A total of 10,000 sq. ft of growing space is available. Guidance and oversight will be provided by the architect-farmer who ran the Penrose Market Garden last year, using the SPIN-Farming system.

Compensation:

  • You make what you can grow and sell.
  • Minus operating expenses
  • Plus housing
  • Plus $200/month paid utilities. (balance of cost paid by you).

This year, put your entrepreneurial abilities on the line, without having to bet the farm. For application and more details email Roxanne Christensen at rchristensen@infocommercegroup.com

 

sf-photo-penrose-blog-farm

sf-photo-penrose-blog-beth-and-kid

2017 Trends and Who’s Setting Them

Here’s SPIN-Farming’s Alphabet List of 2017 Trends culled from all the presentations at last year’s Member Meetups. Thanks to all of the forward thinking SPIN farmers listed below who presented their business plans, how they implemented them and the revenue they targeted and achieved.

SPIN’s online Member Meetups are THE place to get in on the latest entrepreneurial farming trends as they are happening and learn from the real-world experience of those who are using SPIN-Farming to create and develop successful businesses. If starting a farm business, or learning the business of growing food, is on your New Year’s to-do list, you’re welcome to join in. (see below).

SPIN’s Alphabet of 2017 Trends
A la carte CSA
Bike-power
Co-operative marketing
Diversification
Ethnic
Farm to Barrel
GAP
Hyperlocal
Intensification
Juicing
Kids
Loss leaders
Mushrooms
Nutrition info
Online marketplaces
Performance-based
Quick Greens
Relays
Sampling
Targeted revenue
Units
Value add
Winter micros
X-treme weather
Yardsharing
Zero waste

SPIN Farming’s 2017 Star Members
Mary Ackley, Little Wild Things City Farm, Washington DC
Caroline Barrington, Clean Spade Farms, Swift Current SK
Keri Fox, Green Sister Gardens, Moose Jaw SK
John Greenwood, JNJ Farms, Macomb IL
Annabel Khouri, Bay Branch Farm, Cleveland OH
Brian Kowlaski, Murray Meadows Farm, Portugal Cove NL
Rob Miller, Trefoil Gardens, Woodstock GA
Adithya Ramachandran, Kaleidoscope Vegetable Gardens, Dundurn SK
Marcus Riedner, Happiness By The Acre, Calgary AB
Eric Stoffer, Bay Branch Farm, Cleveland OH
Brenda Sullivan, Thompson Street Farm, Glastonbury CT
Brianna van de Wijngaard, Puddle Produce, William Lake BC
Justin Vandenbroeck, Fleet Farming, Oakland CA

sf-photo-blog-star-performers

WANT TO GROW WITH THESE PRO’S?

There are two options  You can purchase membership here, to participate in our online support group and get access to all past and future Member Meetups as well as monthly instant learning sessions conducted by SPIN-Farming’s creator, Wally Satzewich.

If you are committed to starting a business, purchase one of our programs here which also comes with a trial membership.Be on trend and in the money in 2017!

Best Seed Sources is Based on Experience, Not the Catalog

Courtesy of John G, JNJ Farms, Macomb IL

We are working up our 2017 seed orders. First thing we do is to inventory leftover seeds from this season. We are not worried about loss of germination but we may slightly over plant just in case. For what will be transplants we always overseed by 15-20%.

We get many catalogs, and we go through most of them. Several are just recycled from past experiences with companies or price and customer service problems. 1 catalog we get is dirt cheap but packs contain very few seeds for the money. 15 seeds for a dollar or 50 seeds for $3.95 from a different company. Which is the bargain?

We have 2 main companies that are most reliable and have good luck with their seeds. I also place smaller orders from a couple companies that carry new or tried and true varieties that we like. My seed potato are from local suppliers at wholesale prices. We also will order from an onion supplier. We are not real big on heirlooms, not that they are bad we have better luck selling hybrids in most cases. We order early and get early season discounts and go for free or low cost shipping.

This is not a place to hurry through or skimp to save a little money. Do your research and keep in mind your time spent now will be rewarded when you harvest.

sf-photo-fb-seed-catalog

GET MORE SAVVY SEED BUYING TIPS FROM THE PRO’S IN THE SPIN ONLINE SUPPORT GROUP WHICH IS FREE WITH THE PURCHASE OF ANY SPIN GUIDE.  YOU”LL SAVE LOTS OF BUCKS AND KNOW THE BEST AND RARE SOURCES.

SPIN Farming Ten Years Down the Road

Courtesy of Roxanne C., Philadelphia PA

Since its launch 10 years ago, SPIN-Farming has come to mean many things. While it embodies lots of food and farming trends, it’s practitioners know it as a profit-driven production system coupled with a business model. That’s what it is meant to be.

If you have come to know it by hearsay, you might be surprised to learn it’s not all it’s said to be. Here are 10 claims that should be taken with a grain of salt.

# 1. SPIN-Farming teaches you how to farm.
It doesn’t. It teaches how to make money growing food. Rather than duplicating existing farm education programs that focus primarily on agricultural practices, SPIN-Farming provides a financial and management framework for having business drive the agriculture, rather than the other way around. It works much like a franchise, without the cost, conformity or complications.

A common complaint from beginning farmers is they invest years of training for a job that barely pays. SPIN’s online learning programs and membership in its online support group is a low-cost, low-risk alternative. You can find out quickly if you’re cut out for farming without taking on the traditional farm commitments of owning lots of land, investing piles of money and making a big lifestyle change. You get just what you need to know to start, without being overwhelmed by knowledge that is more appropriate to acquire later in your career. The money you save from not having to commit to more elaborate programs can be invested in your farm infrastructure, which, following the classic SPIN approach, is simple and affordable.

By making farm startup fast and easy, it opens up the profession to many more people who otherwise wold not think it was an option for them.

By making farm startup fast and easy, it opens up the profession to many more people who otherwise wold not think it was an option for them.

# 2. SPIN-Farming is urban farming.
It doesn’t have to be.  SPIN-Farming can and is practiced wherever there are markets to support it. It greatly reduces the amount of land needed for commercial crop production, so the land base a farmer needs is no bigger than some backyards, front lawns and neighborhood lots. In fact the land base for many SPIN farmers is backyards, front lawns and neighborhood lots. It is also non-mechanized and does not use harsh chemicals. So it is particularly suited to densely populated areas since it eliminates the conflicts posed by larger scale agriculture. However, its core concepts of relay cropping, land base allocation, workflow practices and direct marketing are practiced on suburban and rural farms as well.

spin-photo-gail-manitoba

Rural plots can also be used in SPIN farms. Some SPIN farmers even own a tractor!

#3.  SPIN-Farming is Square Foot Gardening.
Pictures are worth a thousand words.

Square foot gardening.

Square foot gardening.

SPIN-Farming on 2,500 sq. ft.

SPIN-Farming on 2,500 sq. ft.

To turn garden-size spaces into farm-size income you need to maximize your growing space in order to produce significant volume.

But SPIN-Farming goes far beyond space utilization. It also includes professional grade harvesting and post-harvesting practices, operations management framework and a business model. Its aim is to achieve progressively higher levels of revenue, with key
benchmarks provided.

# 4. SPIN-Farming is just annual plants.

Perennial crops are frequently used on SPIN farms. They are used in areas that might be difficult to put into annual production, such as perimeter areas. Perennial crops are usually low maintenance so they are also used on multi-locational farms that are over extended. If you have a lot of land in play these types of crops reduce the amount of labor needed, and make overall farm operations much more manageable. Many can be sold through multiple sales channels, and can be worth a lot of money – $1000+ per segment. Examples of perennial crops include horseradish, mint, rhubarb, raspberries, sunchokes, strawberries. There are many, many others.

That is the point – to have as many options as possible, and be constantly changing them up. SPIN farms are comprised of annual, perennial, and even foraged crops. Crop planning is mix of both strategy and serendipity To be successful you need to be a reality-based farmer, not a rules-based farmer.

There are many reasons to include perennial crops like rhubarb in a SPIN crop repertoire.

There are many reasons to include perennial crops like rhubarb in a SPIN crop repertoire.

# 5. SPIN-Farming uses set pricing of $3 per unit or 2 for $5.
There is no set pricing in SPIN-Farming, but there are pricing strategies which are outlined in the learning series. There are two other rules of thumb to keep in mind on pricing:
>>>80% of your business will come from 20% of your customers

>>>If 20% of potential customers don’t pass you by complaining your prices are too high, you aren’t charging enough

The exact percentages above aren’t important, but the points are:
>>> you need to capture whatever percent of the market that is willing to pay you what your produce is worth, not the largest percent of the market

>>> you need to charge pricing that makes being in business worth your while, and hold to it (of course you have to back it up with quality products)

An important point to understand when it comes to SPIN concepts and processes is that practice overrules orthodoxy. SPIN farmers are master rule breakers – especially rules of their own making!

With SPIN's mix and match pricing, customers can grab and go...just ask Rex Landings of Cackleberry Farms.

With SPIN’s mix and match pricing, customers can grab and go…just ask Rex Landings of Cackleberry Farms.

# 6. SPIN-Farming is yardsharing.
Yardsharing is an option outlined in the SPIN-Farming system, but it is not a defining a component. To remove the main barrier to entry for new farmers, SPIN-Farming outlines a multi-locational model that has been used by SPIN’s founder, Wally Satzewich, for over 15 years. It is the same as yardsharing – a farmer secures the use of backyards or front lawns or unused lots instead of having to invest in farmland. Terms and tenure vary. The number of plots that comprises Wally’s farm have ranged from 11 to 25, with the total never more than 2/3 of an acre, or around 30,000 square feet. Terms of use have varied, and plots have come and gone, depending on various circumstances.

The point is that SPIN farmers can make cropland wherever they happen to be. Many SPIN farmers, however, have sizeable properties and do not have to resort to yardsharing. And those who start out yardsharing sometimes move on to a singe plot of land or buy traditional farms.

A SPIN-Farming land base is very dynamic. It can be scaled up or down,and can be owned, traded or leased, based on whatever the farmer’s needs are at any given time.

A SPIN-Farming land base is very dynamic. It can be scaled up or down,and can be owned, traded or leased, based on whatever the farmer’s needs are at any given time.

Here are negotiating points that should be addressed if you decide to do yardsharing. Its benefits are many – it is low- risk, and high-profile if the yard is visible to passersby. It can turn out to be a great way to market your produce!

# 7. SPIN-Farming is market gardening. 
SPIN-Farming’s scale and growing practices are no different than market gardening. What is novel is the SPIN-Farming system which standardizes how a market garden is planned, created and run. It provides everything you’d expect from a good franchise: a business concept, marketing strategy, pricing guidelines, financial benchmarks and a detailed day- to-day workflow. In creating a reproducible process it really isn’t any different from McDonald’s.

While most market gardening learning programs focus primarily if not exclusively on agricultural practices, SPIN emphasizes the business aspects and provides a financial and management framework for having revenue goals drive the agriculture, rather than the other way around.

While other market gardening learning programs address growing, marketing and management,the SPIN-Farming system ties them altogether to keep you focused on what matters most to generating steady, consistent, progressively higher higher cashflow so
that you have more control over outcomes and income. It also provides specific benchmarks to measure progress, so that you know if you are under or achieving.

Now that local foods represents an $11 billion+ industry, according to the USDA, the practice of market gardening is becoming professionalized and competitive. The SPIN-Farming system quantifies exactly how lucrative and rewarding success can be.

SPIN-Farming takes market gardening to much smaller plots of land and much higher levels of profitability.

SPIN-Farming takes market gardening to much smaller plots of land and much higher levels of profitability.

See these related posts:

Performance-based Farming: How Well Are You Doing?.

Revenue Is The Benchmark To Beat

# 8. SPIN-Farming requires tilling.
SPIN-Farming recommends the use of a tiller because in a business time is money, and a tiller makes very fast work of prepping and replanting. But using a tiller is not always practical or possible in some cases. And it is a significant investment. We are also aware of the fervent opposition to tilling among some growers who believe that it damages soil
structure. SPIN does not dictate any one method of soil prep or maintenance but recommends using local inputs and composting if you can. It is a production system, not a belief system.

mod-2-bed-prep-3
See related posts:

What Is The Best Way To Prep Land?

Working The Soil Is What Farmers Do

# 9. SPIN-Farming is a movement
Food and farming-related movements have sprouted like weeds over the last 10 years, and SPIN-Farming can be used to advance many of them. It’s a tool, not a cause. Whether it’s used as a mission, a business or for self expression, we’ve never heard a bad reason to grow food. SPIN’s only role is helping people find the business opportunity in something they feel passionate about and love to do.

sf-photo-movement-logo-fleet-farming-photo

No matter your purpose, it just makes sense to pay the bills by proving your cause.

# 10. SPIN-Farming is sustainable
This is a specious statement, as are any claims to sustainability. The reality is, Who knows?

Whether, and how, anything can be sustained can only be known in hindsight. To truly prove this claim you need to take the long view and base the answer on practice, not theory. It’s encouraging and gratifying that SPIN is helping to channel some of the new found enthusiasm for getting your hands in the dirt into new farming businesses. But the mark of success for SPIN will be how many of these growers have staying power. Check back to see how many SPIN farmers have started – and stayed – in business in another 10 years.

sf-photo-blog-ghotst-farm

Looking forward to seeing you in another 10 years….

 

 

How to Get Big Sales of Big Onions

Courtesy of Wally S., Wally’s Urban Market Garden, Saskatoon SK

One way SPIN farmers make bigger sales is by using a mix and match multiple unit pricing strategy – $3/unit, 2 for $5, 5 for $10. We sell our onions in mesh bags, and this fits this strategy well, with small onions making up about a half pound bag. But what do you do with large size onions that weigh a half pound or more? They can’t be plugged into this strategy.

What works for me is marketing them in braid form. The large onions sell at well at $10 a braid. Each braid has 5 onions and are about 3 lbs. per braid. I also test marketed an upscale version with garlic and dry peppers. Those go for $20. This customer bought one of each, for a nice $30 sale.

In addition to capturing more value from certain crops, braids make your stand more inviting and help differentiate you at market.

In addition to capturing more value from certain crops, braids make your stand more inviting and help differentiate you at market.

Some come to SPIN expecting hard and fast rules, like always following a set pricing strategy. But that’s not how farming works. When it comes to pricing strategies an important point to understand is that practice overrules orthodoxy. SPIN farmers are master rule breakers – especially rules of their own devising! So be creative not just with your braiding, bu also in your marketing and pricing strategies.

GET MORE PRICING AND MARKETING TIPS FROM THE PRO’S IN SPIN’S ONLINE SUPPORT GROUP. FREE TRIAL MEMBERSHIP COMES WITH THE PURCHASE OF ANY GUIDE. 

 

SPIN Farming May Not Be All You Think It Is

Courtesy of Roxanne C. , Philadelphia PA

Since its launch 10 years ago, SPIN-Farming has come to mean many things. While it embodies lots of food and farming trends, it’s practitioners know it as a profit-driven production system coupled with a business model. That’s what it is meant to be.

If you have come to know it by hearsay, you might be surprised to learn it’s not all it’s said to be. Over the next 10 weeks we’ll do a countdown of some of the claims that should be taken with a grain of salt. Here is # 1.

# 10. SPIN-Farming is sustainable
This is a specious statement, as are any claims to sustainability. The reality is, Who knows?

Whether, and how, anything can be sustained can only be known in hindsight. To truly prove this claim you need to take the long view and base the answer on practice, not theory. It’s encouraging and gratifying that SPIN is helping to channel some of the new found enthusiasm for getting your hands in the dirt into new farming businesses. But the mark of success for SPIN will be how many of these growers have staying power. Check back to see how many SPIN farmers have started – and stayed – in business in another 10 years. sf-photo-blog-ghotst-farm

Looking forward to seeing you in another 10 years…..

# 2. SPIN-Farming is a movement
Food and farming-related movements have sprouted like weeds over the last 10 years, and SPIN-Farming can be used to advance many of them. It’s a tool, not a cause. Whether it’s used as a mission, a business or for self expression, we’ve never heard a bad reason to grow food. SPIN’s only role is helping people find the business opportunity in something they feel passionate about and love to do.

sf-photo-movement-logo-fleet-farming-photo

No matter your purpose, it just makes sense to pay the bills by proving your cause.

# 3. SPIN-Farming requires tilling.
SPIN-Farming recommends the use of a tiller because in a business time is money, and a tiller makes very fast work of prepping and replanting. But using a tiller is not always practical or possible in some cases. And it is a significant investment. We are also aware of the fervent opposition to tilling among some growers who believe that it damages soil
structure. SPIN does not dictate any one method of soil prep or maintenance but recommends using local inputs and composting if you can. It is a production system, not a belief system.

mod-2-bed-prep-3

See related posts:

Working the Soil is What Farmers Do

What is the Best Way to Prep Land?

# 4. SPIN-Farming is market gardening. 
SPIN-Farming’s scale and growing practices are no different than market gardening. What is novel is the SPIN-Farming system which standardizes how a market garden is planned, created and run. It provides everything you’d expect from a good franchise: a business concept, marketing strategy, pricing guidelines, financial benchmarks and a detailed day- to-day workflow. In creating a reproducible process it really isn’t any different from McDonald’s.

While most market gardening learning programs focus primarily if not exclusively on agricultural practices, SPIN emphasizes the business aspects and provides a financial and management framework for having revenue goals drive the agriculture, rather than the other way around.

While other market gardening learning programs address growing, marketing and management,the SPIN-Farming system ties them altogether to keep you focused on what matters most to generating steady, consistent, progressively higher higher cashflow so
that you have more control over outcomes and income. It also provides specific benchmarks to measure progress, so that you know if you are under or achieving.

Now that local foods represents an $11 billion+ industry, according to the USDA, the practice of market gardening is becoming professionalized and competitive. The SPIN-Farming system quantifies exactly how lucrative and rewarding success can be.

SPIN-Farming takes market gardening to much smaller plots of land and much higher levels of profitability.

SPIN-Farming takes market gardening to much smaller plots of land and much higher levels of profitability.

See related posts.

Revenue Is The Benchmark To Beat

Perforrmance-based Farming: How Well Are You Doing?

# 5. SPIN-Farming is yardsharing.
Yardsharing is an option outlined in the SPIN-Farming system, but it is not a defining a component. To remove the main barrier to entry for new farmers, SPIN-Farming outlines a multi-locational model that has been used by SPIN’s founder, Wally Satzewich, for over 15 years. It is the same as yardsharing – a farmer secures the use of backyards or front lawns or unused lots instead of having to invest in farmland. Terms and tenure vary. The number of plots that comprises Wally’s farm have ranged from 11 to 25, with the total never more than 2/3 of an acre, or around 30,000 square feet. Terms of use have varied, and plots have come and gone, depending on various circumstances.

The point is that SPIN farmers can make cropland wherever they happen to be. Many SPIN farmers, however, have sizable properties and do not have to resort to yardsharing. And those who start out yardsharing sometimes move on to a singe plot of land or buy traditional farms.

A SPIN-Farming land base is very dynamic. It can be scaled up or down,and can be owned, traded or leased, based on whatever the farmer’s needs are at any given time.

A SPIN-Farming land base is very dynamic. It can be scaled up or down,and can be owned, traded or leased, based on whatever the farmer’s needs are at any given time.

Here are negotiating points that should be addressed if you decide to do yardsharing. Its benefits are many – it is low-risk, and high-profile if the yard is visible to passersby. It can turn out to be a great way to market your produce!

# 6. SPIN-Farming uses set pricing of $3 per unit or 2 for $5.                                 There is no set pricing in SPIN-Farming, but there are pricing strategies which are outlined in the learning series. There are two other rules of thumb to keep in mind on pricing:
>>>80% of your business will come from 20% of your customers

>>>If 20% of potential customers don’t pass you by complaining your prices are too high, you aren’t charging enough

The exact percentages above aren’t important, but the points are:
>>> you need to capture whatever percent of the market that is willing to pay you what your produce is worth, not the largest percent of the market

>>> you need to charge pricing that makes being in business worth your while, and hold to it (of course you have to back it up with quality products)

An important point to understand when it comes to SPIN concepts and processes is that practice overrules orthodoxy. SPIN farmers are master rule breakers – especially rules of their own making!

With SPIN's mix and match pricing, customers can grab and go...just ask Rex Landings of Cackleberry Farms.

With SPIN’s mix and match pricing, customers can grab and go…just ask Rex Landings of Cackleberry Farms.

# 7 SPIN-Farming is just annual plants.
Perennial crops are frequently used on SPIN farms. They are used in areas that might be difficult to put into annual production, such as perimeter areas. Perennial crops are usually low maintenance so they are also used on multi-locational farms that are over extended. If you have a lot of land in play these types of crops reduce the amount of labor needed, and make overall farm operations much more manageable. Many can be sold through multiple sales channels, and can be worth a lot of money – $1000+ per segment. Examples of perennial crops include horseradish, mint, rhubarb, raspberries, sunchokes, strawberries. There are many, many others.

That is the point – to have as many options as possible, and be constantly changing them up. SPIN farms are comprised of annual, perennial, and even foraged crops. Crop planning is mix of both strategy and serendipity To be successful you need to be a reality-based farmer, not a rules-based farmer.

There are many reasons to include perennial crops like rhubarb in a SPIN crop repertoire.

There are many reasons to include perennial crops like rhubarb in a SPIN crop repertoire.

#8 SPIN-Farming is Square Foot Gardening.                                                                       Pictures are worth a thousand words.

Square foot gardening.

Square foot gardening.

SPIN-Farming on 2,500 sq. ft.

SPIN-Farming on 2,500 sq. ft.

To turn garden-size spaces into farm-size income you need to maximize your growing space in order to produce significant volume. But SPIN-Farming goes far beyond space utilization. It also includes professional grade harvesting and post-harvesting practices, an operations management framework and a business model. Its aim is to achieve progressively higher levels of revenue, with key benchmarks provided.

# 9: SPIN-Farming is urban farming.                                                                                    It doesn’t have to be. SPIN-Farming can and is practiced wherever there are markets to support it. It greatly reduces the amount of land needed for commercial crop production, so the land base a farmer needs is no bigger than some backyards, front lawns and neighborhood lots. In fact the land base for many SPIN farmers is backyards, front lawns and neighborhood lots. It is also non-mechanized and does not use harsh chemicals. So it is particularly suited to densely populated areas since it eliminates the conflicts posed by larger scale agriculture. However, its core concepts of relay cropping, land base allocation, workflow practices and direct marketing are practiced on suburban and rural farms as well.

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Some SPIN farms are in rural areas. Some SPIN farmers even use a tractor!

# 10: SPIN-Farming teaches how to farm.
It doesn’t. It teaches how to make money growing food. Rather than duplicating existing farm education programs that focus primarily on agricultural practices, SPIN-Farming provides a financial and management framework for having business drive the agriculture, rather than the other way around. It works much like a franchise, without the cost, conformity or complications.

A common complaint from beginning farmers is they invest years of training for a job that barely pays. SPIN’s online learning programs and membership in its online support group is a low-cost, low-risk alternative. You can find out quickly if you’re cut out for farming without taking on the traditional farm commitments of owning lots of land, investing piles of money and making a big lifestyle change. You get just what you need to know to start, without being overwhelmed by knowledge that is more appropriate to acquire later in your career. The money you save from not having to commit to more elaborate programs can
be invested in your farm infrastructure, which, following the classic SPIN approach, is simple and affordable.

By making farm startup fast and easy, SPIN-Farming opens up the profession to many more people who otherwise wold not think it was an option for them.

By making farm startup fast and easy, SPIN-Farming opens up the profession to many more people who otherwise wold not think it was an option for them.

 

Niche Products Can Diversify or Define Your Business

Courtesy of Wally S., Wally’s Urban Market Garden, Saskatoon SK

SPIN farmers are always experimenting with niche crops to stay on top of trends, or sometimes create them. This is an advantage we have over larger scale growers – we don’t have to bet the farm to discover our next moneymaker. We can trial in small “batches”, and when we have access to more plots than we need, which is becoming more and more common. And since we are always interacting with our customers, we have a pretty good idea of what people might buy, and which customers to cater to.

There are a couple of ways to make niche crops pay off. One way is to base your business on them, like Adithya Ramachandran and Jenny Menat of Kaleidoscope Vegetable Gardens. Their half acre farm focuses on ethnic and specialty crops that aren’t available from other vendors in their area. Their niche crops include tomatillos, Moringa greens, Padrón peppers, jalapeño peppers, Roselle, Kabocha squash and Jamaican sorrel. They introduce them by providing samples and cooking instructions and their business strategy is to attract a sophisticated clientele to their market stand.

Kaleidoscope Vegetable Gardens base their business on growing niche crops. Notice they also offer recipes in a bag like Salsa verde mix and ratatouille mix.

Rob Miller, of Trefoil Gardens, has built his business on mushrooms, both cultivated and wild, and rare greens such as dock and poke, as well as violet Figs, pawpaw and sumac berries. He posts availability and recipes on his social media a week prior to market. His customers seek him out to try something new and exotic, and now he is starting to grow traditional SPIN crops to be more of a one-stop shop.

Blue and white oyster mushrooms attract a special clientele to Rob Miller’s market stand.

I branched out the other way, by growing specialty and ethnic crops as an add-on to my more traditional SPIN repertoire. I have had success with horse radish and fava beans. I don’t put them out at my stand – I grow these crops as a private stock just or those customers who have self-identified as more progressive eaters. So you might say I have two different product lines – one for connoisseurs and one for the mass market.

My fava beans have their own followers who get notified when they are available.

The rise of “food culture” means more people are becoming adventurous in their eating, and this means SPIN farmers can be more adventurous too. Whether you use niche crops to diversify, or define, your business, more and more SPIN farmers are finding the payoff is worth it.

Bee Friendly Farming Attracts Customers

Courtesy of Wally S., Wally’s Urban Market Garden, Saskatoon SK  

Here is one certification that is easy to get, may go beyond certified organic, and is more relevant and cheaper and less intrusive to implement – Bee Friendly Farming.

A few criteria are required to make your farm pollinating insect friendly, and they are easy to implement. You need to supply photos but there are no actual inspections. A nominal fee gets you some signs you can post at your plots, and use at your farm stand. So it’s good for bees, and good for your operation, in more ways than one. In Canada, the Bee Friendly program is handled by Pollination Canada,a project of Seeds of Diversity. Certification criteria, yearly membership cost, and the price of the metal
sign is on their web page. More details about the program are here.

This is an eco-friendly benefit all of your customers understand and are eager to support. They’ll be attracted to your stand like well…you know.

SF photo fb bee friendly