Getting Better at Getting Better

Courtesy of Roxanne C., Philadelphia PA

SPIN farmers are always looking ahead, so the end of one year and the beginning of another is a great time.  We’ve poured over the past 9 years of the SPIN online support group to come up with an alphabet of New Year’s Resolutions, based on some of the goals that have been shared and accomplished there over the years. Whichever ones are on your list this year, the SPIN online support group can help you stick with ’em. The group is a collaborative platform for self-improvement, professional development, and enhancing the SPIN system, and it offers peer-to-peer guidance from the brightest and  most innovative minds in farming today. We hope you’ll join us, where every year is a year to get better at getting better.

SPIN’s Alphabet of New Year’s Resolutions

  • Achieve a $1k early spring market day
  • Build a walk-in cooler – check in with SPIN Farmer Paul Hoepfner-Homme
  • Concentrate on high value crops
  • Design a more efficient workstation
  • Even out my harvesting
  • Figure out how to use the Earthway
  • Get to a workshop by Linda Borghi or Brenda Sullivan
  • Intensify my land base
  • Jumpstart a Quick Green business in 14 days or less
  • Keep better records
  • Learn appropriate GAP protocols
  • Master my relays
  • Nourish my soil
  • Open a mobile farm stand
  • Put in a commercial kitchen
  • Quantify the value of every crop I grow
  • Remember to bring enough change to market
  • Specialize in a particular crop
  • Track my work rates
  • Update my pricing scheme
  • Visit the SPIN training center at Spence Family Farms in Spring Lake NC
  • Work with a high profile chef
  • X-pand my CSA
  • Yearn to learn
  • Zip up my farm stand sales

Here’s to getting started, from all of us at SPIN-Farming…

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Temperature Control for Winter Storage Crops

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

More and more consumers go to year round farmers markets so they can know where their food comes from, even in winter. What they find at my stand are storage crops, like beets, carrots and potatoes.

Part of the challenge of year round marketing of produce in cold weather winters is keeping your storage vegetables in good physical condition for several months. Just as in the summer, I take SPIN’s high road by using a cooler. Keeping it at the right storage temperature is key. My cooler is on average around 35 F, or few degrees above freezing celsius. It’s in my garage, along with a work area for prepping produce. I keep it in my garage, which is heated with a small plug in radiant space heater. The thermostat is set to 50 F.

A few nights ago it was -35 Celsius overnight. Just made a celsius to fahrenheit calculation and ironically this is the temperature where the two scales converge: -35 C is the same as -35 F. So I have to deal with the outdoor temperature, the garage temperature and cooler temperature. The heater keeps the garage at 50 F., but the question is how do I keep the cooler at the desired temperature? I find just partially opening the cooler door allows air to seep in from the garage, when it is very cold outside. When temperatures outside get warmer, I can shut off the heater for certain periods of time and close the door for the cooler. Right now the cooler temperature is 34 F, which is about optimal. The aim is to keep it above freezing, and below 40 F.

SF photo Wally temp2


This is not a high tech method for sure, but it works, as long as I keep an eye on things happening inside and outside. So you don’t need an elaborate setup to keep your farm stand stocked with the staples that keep your customers coming, and your cash flowing,  when the snow is flying.