How to Scope Your Startup When Land Is Not an Issue

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

SPIN is closely associated with urban farming because it requires little space to support a farm business, and you don’t have to own the land you grow on. But it’s equally valuable in a situation like this:

Hi. We have purchased 18 acres and expect to move to it later this summer. I have no experience in farming and very little in gardening.  Your guides have helped me tremendously as I layout my farm. However there is one question I haven’t figured out yet.  I need to establish some realistic goals on exactly how much we can do.  Equipment isn’t much of an issue. I plan on buying a big BCS with most of the gardening implements. In your experience how many standard beds can two people realistically expect to manage full time?

For landowners of sizable acreage, these six factors are the ones to consider when defining how ambitious you should be in your first year.

  • Age and fitness of growers
  • Gardening/farming background
  • Motivation
  • Financial goal
  • Readiness of plots
  • Land base allocation

If the land you have is ready to farm, you might put in about an acre of production, and control your effort through strategic land base allocation. Put a small percent of that acre in intensive relay production, some in bi-relay and most in single crop production with relatively easy to grow crops. Your innate ability to grow will be big variable in your first year or two.The more you do it, the better you get. As the years go on, you can re-balance the intensity of your production, putting more of your initial acre into intensive relays, and expanding to multiple acres with single crop production.

Success at any scale of farming requires mastering production, which means growing consistently, in significant volume, at commercial grade, over an extended period of time. The speed that you master production is dictated by the size of land you have in production. The smaller your growing space, the faster and easier you will master production.

SPIN Photo Gail's place in Manitoba5000sf

If you have lots of acres, you’ll stack the deck in favor of your long term success by thinking and operating like a SPIN farmer.