Ask Wally

There are three different options.

The first option is to grow a  single crop.  A common example is garlic which is the type of crop that works for a highly focused, specialized operation, with large multi-acre plantings required.

The A – Z option is growing a wide variety of crops, sometimes 25+.

Then there is a middle option,  which is to grow 10 – 15 types of crops, mostly common easy-to-sell vegetables, with also a few niche items.

Which option is best for a SPIN farmer? The A – Z approach looks enticing, since you get to grow a wide variety of vegetables which seems less risky because it  mitigates crop or marketing  failures.  The problem is, that creates a lot of pressure in terms of growing and selling. To sell a wide variety of produce successfully means you need to have a big stand at market, and the capacity to sell effectively. Also many of your crops will not be marginal sellers,  so that will take away from your bottom line.

The single crop option only works if you have  marketing channels which will buy in significant quantity.  It has its risks, but can be lucrative if everything goes your way.

The middle of the road option –  a steady, common line of vegetables. with not too much variety, so that you don’t get overwhelmed with growing too many different things, plus a few low-risk niche crops makes the most sense for a wide variety of SPIN farmers. The A  – Z option is best suited for larger multi-acre SPIN farms, that might be family-based, or have a few workers on staff,  so that the diversity of produce can be managed.

Deciding which of these three is best depends on  several factors: size of your land base, length of growing season, whether your operating model is full or part-time, labor availability, and market demand. These will change from season to season and year to year,  but this is its big advantage – you’ve always got options.