- by Roxanne Christensen Co-author SPIN-Farming www.spinfarming.com
|With SPIN, the "back 40" may be measured in beds instead of acres.|
What makes SPIN different from other commercial vegetable farming methods, and uniquely suited to the citizen-farmer, is that it makes it possible to generate significant income from sub-acre land masses. With SPIN, farmers do not need much land to start their commercial operations. More importantly, they don’t need to own any land at all; they can affordably rent or even barter their land base from neighbors, friends and relatives.
|There's something about SPIN-Farming that proves irresistible to family members, they start hanging out at your plots, and pretty soon they're ripe for productive use!|
Who are these new citizen-farmers who are putting a new SPIN on growing food? Some have been educated in other professions, or have had other careers. Some have home or community gardening experience, while others have never had dirt under their fingernails. Some come from traditional farm families, but most do not.
|A common mistake of many novice sub-acre farmers is to grow too many low-value crops. SPIN farmers devote most of their production to high value crops.|
The new citizen-farmers are a little bit of an idealist/romantic, a pragmatic doer capable of consistent effort, someone who desires independence, and someone who has a pioneering spirit. They recognize that cities are impulsive, boisterous, spontaneous, and competitive, while agriculture is plodding, tranquil, deliberate and deferential. And they are capable of envisioning a world where for one to be right, the other does not have to be wrong.
Whether they establish their farmsteads in the middle of urban jungles or sprawling suburbia, they are all uniting behind SPIN to advance engaged, rather than escapist, agriculture. They use minimal off-farm inputs, and those that they do use are obtained locally. Their SPIN farms are not the huge monochromatic blocks of golden wheat and tasseled corn that have come to define modern agriculture. Instead, a more intricate pattern weaves together this sub-acre farmland. Individual plots of lettuce, radishes, carrots, tomatoes, herbs and spinach are framed by rows of sunflowers or fig trees. Planting this carefully chosen diversity of species makes a pretty picture, and it also benefits the environment by eliminating the need for artificial pesticides and fertilizers while returning the land to the natural cycle.
|Braiding garlic takes practice, but handicrafts are a natural extension of farming and satisfies the more creative urges of some SPIN farmers.|
For those who desire to think things through again, re-identify with the source of things, make certain re-appropriations, SPIN is their “call-to-farms.”
© copyright Roxanne Christensen 2007