SPIN-Farming Certification Means Business


What’s it good for? SPIN-Farming certification doesn’t leave you wondering. Once you’ve earned it, what you’ll have to show for it is a moneymaking farm business. The certification program is focused, rigorous, performance-based and produces a measurable ROI.

Completion time depends on the level you are starting from. Here are the levels:

SPIN-Farming Levels of Achievement

$ Pro 1 (Basics concepts) – Novice ($500 average gross/week)
18 Credits
Covers:                                                                                                                                     >Design
>Production techniques
>Basic, low-cost infrastructure and gear
>Harvesting & prepping practices
>Safe farming practices
Graduation requirement: present the plan that generated $500 average gross/week in revenue- crops grown, unit amounts, sales channels, pricing, number of marketing weeks

completion of this level signifies a novice farmer

$$ Pro 2 (includes 2.0 concepts) – Apprentice ($1,000 average gross/week)
21 Credits
Covers:                                                                                                                     >Equipment investments
>Land base allocation
>Extended marketing period
Graduation requirement: present the plan that generated $1,000 average gross/week in revenue – crops grown, unit amounts, sales channels, pricing, number of marketing weeks

completion of this level signifies an apprentice farmer

$$$ Pro 3 – Experienced ($2,000 average gross/week)
12 Credits
Covers:                                                                                                                                   >Work rate
>Cropping strategies
>Crop repertoire
>Extended marketing period
Graduation requirement: present the plan that generated $2,000 average gross/week in revenue – crops grown, unit amounts, sales channels, pricing, number of marketing weeks

completion of this level signifies an experienced farmer

$$$$ Pro 4 – Expert ( $2,000+ average gross per week)
12 Credits
Covers:                                                                                                                                >Maximized marketing period
>Season extension
>GAP compliance
Graduation requirement: present the plan that generated $2,000+ average gross/week in revenue – crops grown, unit amounts, sales channels, pricing, number of marketing weeks

completion of this level signifies an expert farmer

No grades. No papers. You learn by doing with online guidance from a SPIN mentor and peer-to-peer support.

Here’s how it works:
>Pick the level you are starting from
>Be assigned a SPIN mentor
>Earn SPIN credits (you might already have)!
>Achieve progressively higher levels of proficiency and revenue
>Create a moneymaking farm as you go, at a pace that suits your abilities, time and resources

Here’s graduation requirements:
>Follow our online learning program
>Pass a 25 question test
>Provide key 5 SPIN metrics for each level you complete
>Create a moneymaking SPIN farm

For more details on SPIN-Farming certification, go here.

RX for Keeping Your Business Healthy

Courtesy of Roxanne C., Philadelphia, PA 

Whatever else the ever-expanding ecosystem of food activists, advocates, bloggers, media celebrities and nonprofits has accomplished, it has convinced consumers that the big food companies can’t be trusted to be honest about how they make food, and what’s in it. Ketchum, the big public relations firm that works extensively with the food industry, says its research shows food purchases are driven by one thing – consumers’ deep concern about the health and safety of themselves and their families.

As a result, SPIN farmers now have the opportunity to serve new customers. Marketing to them requires using different methods and different messaging. Like most business owners, you might have started out selling to those similar to yourself. But to capture new customers you have to start understanding the needs and motivations that may be different than your own.

SPIN farmers are reporting they’re seeing new interest from millennials, and they are changing up their products to serve them. Millennial customers are usually young professionals. Many have two income households and young children. Home cooking
is becoming more important to them, with men participating in more KP duties. Speed and convenience are key for them, and SPIN’s mix and match multiple unit packaging and pricing allows them to grab and go. If you’re still weighing out your produce items, you may need to re-think that. You might also consider offering and packaging produce together that can make an entire meal, like ratatouille.

Many millennials are single and looking to meet people and try new things. Hosting cooking demos that emphasize the health benefits of the ingredients from your stand is a way to initially engage them. Ask them what they need. This could lead to changes to your crop repertoire, or your marketing. If your market is only open when millennials are working, you may need to extend the hours, or consider a satellite market closer to workplaces, or an online order and delivery service. Or start using facebook and email marketing to create direct connections with your customers.

With so many players driving so much change in the food industry now, you need to keep your sales and marketing as fresh your produce. That way, your business will be as healthy as your customers.

DDG6 photo 2 DSC00353 (2)

10 Characteristics of Successful SPIN Farmers

Courtesy of Roxanne C.,Philadelphia PA

We get asked all the time, “Who is the typical SPIN farmer?” The question comes from those who want to make money farming, but have doubts about whether they have what it takes to succeed. It’s their round-about way of trying to find out if they measure up.

The true readiness of a SPIN farmer can’t be determined by standardized skills assessment sheets or formulaic self-evaluation forms. SPIN farmers, by definition, are doers. If you are serious about becoming a farmer, and are trying to figure out how to go about it, one of the best ways we can help is to give you real-world examples to follow. So each month we host an online meetup with a SPIN farmer who explains how they got started, what their farm is like and how much money they are making.

There really is no typical SPIN farmer, but what is emerging from our meetups are these 10 common characteristics:

1. They are production-driven
2. They sell their products for a premium
3. They understand that the story of their farm can be turned into economic worth in the marketplace
4. They set goals, plan, and identify measurable objectives
5. They track their SPIN numbers
6. They do not take on much, if any, debt
7. They view change as opportunity
8. They innovate new approaches to business arrangements, such as networking, partnerships, and diversification.
9. They keep up to date on food trends
10. They know how to assess, take on and manage reasonable risk

If you can’t find a SPIN farmer in your neck of the woods to learn from, you’re welcome to drop in on our online SPIN member meetups. Follow us on facebook for the schedule. Though every one of our members has a unique story to tell, they all agree on one thing. The best way to get started is to just do it. SPIN makes it low-risk, and you’ll know quickly if you have what it takes. Here’s how well some of them are doing, and they are all eager to tell you how they did it.

SF photo blog characteristics just do it


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 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.



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.


  • 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




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
Co-operative marketing
Farm to Barrel
Loss leaders
Nutrition info
Online marketplaces
Quick Greens
Targeted revenue
Value add
Winter micros
X-treme weather
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



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.