2018 Trends and Who’s Setting Them

Here’s SPIN-Farming’s Alphabet List of 2018 Trends to look forward to, culled from all the presentations at this 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 2018 Trends
Brand building
Collaborative CSA
DIY supply chains
Food Safety
Grocery stores
Herbaceous cocktails
Inventory tracking
Just in time delivery
Mix and match pricing
Nursery business
Organic certification
Pet food
Quackleberry eggs
Relative crop values
Targeted revenue (will always be big)
Utility sink (a farmer’s spa!)
Yardsharing (still big)
Zippy packaging (good-bye dull earth tones)

SPIN Farming’s 2017 Star Performers
SF photo Trends 2018

Beth Hagenbuch, Penrose Market Garden, Detroit MI                                            Rob Miller, Trefoil Gardens, Woodstock GA                                                                  Mike Meier, Ground Floor Farm, Stuart FL                                                               Ray Derksen, Market Garden 434, Sylvania SK                                                 Lourdes Casañares, Masagana Flower Farm, Manitoba,                                     Mark Voss, Voss Organics, Madison WI                                                                        Max Valyear, Green Wheel Farms, Belleville ON                                                          Tara Callaghan, Little Victory Farm, Hunter River, PEI                                              Cale Sprister, Sandy’s Way Microfarm, Sedalia CO                                                      Rod Olson, Leafy & Lyre, Calgary AB


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 our guides here which also comes with a free trial membership.Be on trend and in the money in 2018!


Be Ready to Be Dynamic

Thanks to Ray Derksen,John Greenwood, Darmaris Katt, Beth Hagenbuch and Adithya Ramachanrdan for helping Wally lead last week’s meetup. and sharing their end of the year assessments in 5 areas: crops, marketing, work flow, gear and revenue.

SF photo fb Taking Stock 5 members non holiday aThe main theme was in-season revamps to farm plans are now the rule rather than the exception. SPIN farmers are constantly having to change throughout the season in response to food trends, customer tastes and competition.

What that means for 2018: 2 plans – one that is “core”, based on predictable, steady best sellers. And another that is a flex plan, based on more niche, experimental crops that can be changed out quickly throughout the season. Real-time analysis and record keeping are more important than ever. Lots of software out there to help you do that.

Flowers are a blooming trend, along with farmers having to take a more active role in building traffic to their farmer’s markets. Finding motivated labor is a key challenge, and controlling costs is the top 2018 priority. Lots more insights on the current state of the backyard farming business in the replay. Now playing 24/7 when you log in here.

Seed Saving ROI – Would You Believe $250K?

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

Seed saving has been in vogue for some time now, and there are lots of good reasons to do it. Here’s one that surprised me. In crunching some numbers on garlic production, I figured out that from a $500 investment in seed garlic this year, I can grow this investment by 5 times, each year, so at the end of year 4, I’ve turned 250 heads into 125,000 heads worth $250k. The point is to replant the harvested garlic each year instead of selling it.

The calculations involve assuming 5 cloves per head. Planting the cloves multiplies your seed stock at a dramatic rate in a few years. Seed stock, especially for crops like garlic, can be initially expensive to buy, so replanting to multiply your stock has real impact on your bottom line.

Those of you with small yards, or maybe even no yard, are asking, “Yes, but how much land do you need to generate $250k?” Nowhere near as much as you might think.

This is where SPIN-Farming’s standard units of production come in handy. I figure I need about a half SPIN segment, or 500 sq. ft., for 1,000 cloves. 25,000 cloves requires 12.5 segments, which is around a 1/4 acre. 125,000 cloves will require 50  segments, just over an acre. That’s about 2 suburban backyards. So if you don’t have the space yourself, you can team up with someone else, using SPIN’s multi-locational model.

Seed stock multiplication is something I am going to start paying more attention to, because saving seed may save you a pretty penny, and help you generate lots of ’em, too.

Seed saving is virtuous, and a moneymaker too!

Seed saving is virtuous, and a moneymaker too!


Basket Case

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

Here’s a small touch that can generate a big increase in sales – offering a shopping basket at your stand. It works in several ways.

SF photo fb grocery basketIt It makes it much easier for customers to load up if they aren’t having to juggle different items and encourages impulse buys. It also puts them in supermarket mode, where they are used to buying lots of items. It even gives you a friendly ice breaker because you can say, “Hello, would you like a basket?”

All of a sudden the customer feels like they are in a different space, a more familiar space. Taking a basket means they have committed to seriously shop at your stand, and not just spend a few dollars. Many chain mall retailers use this tactic. It’s easy to test out with a few baskets. If it works, you can scale up and have a rack of them with a sign that says “Take one for your convenience.”

One farmer who did this reported that sales doubled, and it turned some occasional customers into regulars. Try it  – bigger sales may be in the basket!

A Cooler Startup

Courtesy of Roxanne C., Philadelphia PA

An aspiring flower farmer planning to start up in 2018 has been thinking through with us whether or not to invest in a cooler. Here are some of the considerations.

If you opt to take SPIN’s low road and launch without a cooler, it will affect your crop repertoire. It will be weighted towards those varieties that can maintain a vase life of about 7 days without being cooled. It will also mean that the business should be based on pre-selling and obtaining contracts for regular weekly delivery, which will eliminate the need for storage.

If you want to sell at a farmer’s market, your workflow will be more pressured, but cutting bouquets the day before or morning of the market is do-able. If you are selling u-pick at an open farm day, it should be scheduled in the morning or at dusk to
avoid flowers wilting in the sun.

If you are partnering with an event coordinator by serving as a contractor/florist vendor, or if you plan to develop an events business on our own, the low road is not an option. The volume and the likelihood that you will be using at least some imported flowers requires access to some cooling capacity. Reach-in coolers can be purchased for under $1,000. and you can add on additional ones as you start generating cashflow.

Investing in a cooler is a major turning point in any SPIN-Farming business. Getting one sooner means an easier launch and faster revenue growth. Getting one later means more trade-offs and developing coping strategies. But for those who are serious
about starting a farm business, the cooler always cometh.

DD1 Indoor market 4 cooler arriving



Scaling Up SPIN-Farming to 4 Acres

Courtesy of Roxanne C., Philadelphia, PA 

While SPIN-Farming may be most closely associated with an urban and backyard multi-locational model, its system of land base allocation, relay cropping and revenue targeting can be applied to larger land bases. Ed Garrett put on his SPIN glasses to take a look at 4 acres and here’s what he saw.

It is very hard not to get drawn into low return crops when you have the “extra” area. Once that happens, the farm starts committing too much time to low net production and loses operational efficiency. The “tractor” mentality assumes larger crop segments that destroy the produced “on demand” nature of SPIN-Farming.

If the same 4 acres was farmed SPIN-style, it would be organized in different sites as independent work units feeding separate markets or market channels. Production deficits at one site could be made up by trading with other production sites on the property.

Changing market behavior away from bulk purchases, especially working with retailers to trust on-demand refill of their stocks to increase freshness of produce is key here. Keeping production units relatively small while increasing their numbers
allows for daily harvest to meet day-to-day demands.

SPIN-Farming on larger land bases requires a more sophisticated strategy than “plant it and forget it.” But the reality of today’s markets is that the more things change, the more they keep changing. SPIN allows for frequent, continual in-season planting plan adjustments based on market demand and weather challenges. It presents a farmer with many decisions, continually throughout the season. It also presents him with opportunities for continual self-correction, and increases his options. And whether you are farming a few thousand square feet or 4 acres, that’s a huge advantage.

SF photo blog 4 acres.Just how big can you get with SPIN? Wally found that the size of his land base had an inverse correlation to the size of his bank account. That’s what led him to downsize to his backyard and develop the SPIN-Farming system. We don’t know what the optimal farm size is, but scaling up sure doesn’t make the same sense it used. to.