Farming’s Alternate Reality Is a Moneymaker

Courtesy of Roxanne C., Philadelphia PA

The story of the aging American farmer is getting old. Every time a new agricultural census report is released it documents how the age of farmers is rising. According to results of the latest census, the average age of primary producers increased from 58.3 in 2012 to 59.4 in 2017.

This is the reality that has been captured by the census for the past 30 years. The average age of U.S. farmers has grown by nearly eight years, from 50.5 years to 58.3 years. The conclusion is that fewer individuals are choosing farming as an occupation than before. This elicits the same well-worn response from advocacy groups, media and the industry that bemoan the barriers to entry for new farmers: inability to access farmland and high cost of startup capital. This reality is concerning to the profession for good reasons, but it’s discouraging people from entering the profession for bad ones.

Land and money don’t have to be the insurmountable challenges the status quo make them out to be. SPIN farmers start in backyards, either their own or others, or find other unused space. They start generating cashflow within the first few months. Once they they have mastered production and established a customer base using garden-size plots, they can expand to a half acre, and then multiple acres, continuing to fine tune their systems, expand their markets and increase their investment as they go.

Over a dozen years of training SPIN farmers, this is the reality we see. Some practice SPIN in their backyards in the city. Others do it on front lawns in the suburbs. Still others do it on large acreages in the country. Some do it part-time, others full-time, alone or with family and friends. Some are young and just starting out, while others are older and on their third or fourth careers, or starting a lifestyle business in retirement. Some have more money than they know what to do with, and others have less than they need.They span geographies, generations and circumstances.

Here’s what they do have in common: they’re looking for a business opportunity they can develop right in their own backyard. They like working outdoors, they like physical work, they like the idea of producing a product everyone wants and needs, they see lots of people flocking to the farmer’s market and owner/operated restaurants, and lugging around CSA boxes and they decide to try growing food to make some money. This is SPIN-Farming’s alternate reality, and it’s creating a working alternative for those who, at any age, are willing to defy worn-out expectations.

LEARN OTHER WAYS THAT WORK BETTER THAN CONVENTIONAL FARMING PRACTICES IN THE SPIN ONLINE SUPPORT GROUP. FREE TRIAL MEMBERSHIP WHEN YOU PURCHASE ANY SPIN GUIDE.

Farm a Go-Go

Courtesy of Roxanne C., Philadelphia PA

A post to the SPIN farmer online support group asks, “My home state has an interesting political environment after the elections that has led many people looking for an exit. Not getting political, just looking at options before my wallet is attacked. Has anyone moved their farm?”

For SPIN farmers it’s a straightforward question. Many don’t own much, or any, of the land they farm. SPIN’s production methods are portable and can be adapted to any climate. SPIN’s infrastructure is movable or easily replaceable. So it’s quite feasible to change the shape and size of a farm in response to a range of pressures, possibilities and life changes.

A new SPIN farm can be brought online rapidly. There will be soil and weed issues, as well as acclimating to a different seasonal time frame, but that’s pretty manageable using SPIN’s production segments and relays. Longer season crops is where the main adjustments will need to be made.

The biggest loss is your customer base that has taken time to develop. Researching the market potential of greener pastures done online will give you an idea of  what the new market opportunities or limitations will be. You can anticipate being more dependent on outside income for the first couple of years while you re-invest in market development, but with your experience managing what you’ve been doing, the production and operations end of your farm will come into line rapidly.

Soil building also takes time and does represent sweat equity,but farming is, at its root, an ad hoc and adaptive process. When life, economics or politics compel you to pull up stakes, two of your most important farm assets – SPIN knowledge and infrastructure – can be packed up and taken with you.

LEARN FROM PIONEERING SPIN FARMERS WHO ARE TAKING THEIR BUSINESSES TO NEW AND UNCHARTED PLACES IN THE SPIN ONLINE SUPPORT GROUP. FREE TRIAL MEMBERSHIP WHEN YOU PURCHASE ANY SPIN GUIDE.

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

GET MORE TIPS ON FASTER AND EASIER STARTUP IN SPIN’S ONLINE SUPPORT GROUP. FREE TRIAL MEMBERSHIP WITH THE PURCHASE OF ANY SPIN GUIDE.