Can There Be Too Many SPIN Farmers?

Courtesy of Roxanne C., Philadelphia PA  

With more SPIN farmers cropping up, we’re being asked, what is the optimal number  that can be supported by the market? Given the growing demand for fresh, local food, saturation should not yet be  a concern in most urban and suburban markets, which is what supports the type of direct to consumer sales that SPIN farmers rely on. Because of the sub-acre scale of SPIN-Farming, the amount of its production does not cause a market to be ” flooded ” with produce. If you gathered and analyzed data on  produce demands for a particular market, and then calculated the amount of local supply, there are still significant gaps.

The best way to tell if there are too many SPIN farms in a certain locality is by simple economics. Too many producers will result in an unstable economic environment, resulting in producers leaving SPIN-Farming. More efficient SPIN farms will be the ones that stay on for the long term. Unlike a franchise which is based on uniformity, farmers adapt the SPIN system to their local markets and climate, and creative improvisation and evolution is SPIN’s modus operandi. There is no typical SPIN farm. Each one is unique, distinguished by each individual farmer’s talents, preferences, and idiosyncrasies. The one
common denominator is that they are being started without major policy changes or government support. They are entirely entrepreneurially driven.

At this point, the production of individual SPIN farms is so small in relation to the totality of
demand, that it will take many, many SPIN farms in any one locality to satisfy it. So the more SPIN farms in a given area the better, since it will make for stronger farmers markets, a vital restaurant scene and fuel even more demand for locally grown produce by an entirely new class of agri-entrepreneurs.

For farmers concerned about competition, the best farming mantra is a new spin on an old one: Get good, or get out.

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