Losing Land is No Tragedy for a SPIN Farmer

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

There was a plot I had been farming for about five years, and now it’s gone. The owner sold her house that it was attached to, and she had no interest in accommodating me as part of the deal. If this were a traditional farming story, I’d be playing the tragic hero-farmer being kicked off his land.

That’s not my story. I can actually say “Good riddance.” It was a good plot. It was about a half hour’s drive north of my Saskatoon home base. It was 7,000 square feet, so 7 segments. I’ve grown my longer season crops there – onions, potatoes, squash, and I could count on it contributing $7K – $12K to my bottom line each year. But over the years, its negatives started outweighing the positives. Traffic on the drive there got crazier, and I obtained other plots in the opposite direction, so logistics were more burdensome.

Now a friend at market has about 6,000 sq. ft. he says I can use which is only a couple of miles from another one of my plots. So I can manage both in one day. To make up the loss of the 1,000 sq. ft. I can intensify production. So this story has a happy ending: I am losing a peri-urban site that was becoming tough to manage, and getting a new site that will be easier to integrate.

That’s the advantage to being a multi-locational SPIN farmer. You have more options to access land (in the US there are 40 million acres of lawn), and you are less likely to get stuck in a rut.

SF photo blog Losing land

Goodbye plot. You served me well, but I won’t be crying in my beer over this breakup.

SPIN farmers have innovative strategies for accessing land. You can find out how they find and manage in the SPIN online support group.  Free trial membership comes with the purchase of any SPIN guide.

Use yardsharing to create an orchard

Courtesy of Ben Klempner, Unity Farm, Moshav Yishi IS

Although I have not been successful in acquiring land through yardshare for the growing of vegetables, I have been very successful in “yard sharing” fruit trees. In others words, knocking on a door with a fruit tree in the yard and asking the owner if I can harvest the fruit from their tree. They are usually more than happy to have me pick that fruit otherwise it just ends up rotting on their lawn. A different type of “yardsharing,” but this type of yardshare has become my “orchard” of sorts.

I have not analyzed the cost/benefit of this type of foraging,but it’s fun. And it seems that there is an excitement around it and that excitement brings with it an economic value. Also, aside from the time harvesting and a few basic pieces of equipment (which are good to have around the house anyway) there seems to be little investment cost. No seeds, no water, no soil amendments, no time, effort, and energy taking care of the trees and soil. Just harvesting from neighborhood trees that would otherwise go unharvested with fruit left to rot. My CSA people like that they’re getting more than just vegetables.They also like the idea of foraged produce in their CSA bags (it makes them feel very avant garde).

SF photo Binyamin foraging

Here is Ben foraging oranges from a neighbor’s yard. He transitioned to full-time farming using the SPIN-Farming system in Spring of 2014, creating Unity Farm in a former industrial zone using 900 Earthboxes. In SPIN’s online forum he has addressed such topics as crowdfunding, dealing with closed-minded extension agents, and how to build a profitable customer base, and has been a guest on SPIN’s semi-monthly Open Houses. 

Follow  Ben and Unity Farm a thumbs up at: Facebook.com/UnityFarmIsrael and visit his website at  http://unityurbanfarm.weebly.com/

Thumbs up to the first SPIN farmer in Israel!

For SPIN forum membership information, email SPIN co-founder Roxanne Christensen at rchristensen@infocommercegroup.com