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article about the originator of the small plot intensive method of urban market gardenign

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  • Bob Waldrop
    Here is an article about the originator of the Small Plot Intensive method of urban market gardening. http://www.spinfarming.com/ Click the link below for
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 11, 2012
      Here is an article about the originator of the Small Plot Intensive
      method of urban market gardening. http://www.spinfarming.com/

      Click the link below for pictures.

      If you're not aware of this program, the originator and his wife left a
      rural farm in order to set up as market gardeners in the city. THey
      don't have one large patch, they use small plots in the back yards of
      people who live in the town. They typically pay the rent in veggies. I
      am sending it here because I think this is potentially useful for low
      income people wanting to start small businesses that are lower in their
      capital requirements than most such attempts. I have the guides that the
      SPIN farming people produce, and they are worth the investment for
      anyone considering starting a market garden.

      Bob Waldrop, Romero House


      It was first thing on a Wednesday morning in July and Wally Satzewich
      was busy and mobile.

      In about an hour, the market gardener had moved from his Saskatoon home
      to the city’s farmers’ market where he unloaded his produce before
      moving to a 10,000-square-foot garden outside of the city 
to spend a
      few hours weeding and hoeing.

      In a few hours, he’d return to the city, pack up at the farmers’ market
      and return home to prepare vegetables for when business picks up on the

      “I like to maintain a pretty tight schedule in terms of doing the same
      things every week,” said Satzewich, operator of Wally’s Urban Market
      Garden and a 20 year fixture at the Saskatoon Farmers’ Market.

      “Get into a routine. That way you know what to expect.”

      Satzewich started his market garden in the early 1990s, living in rural
      Saskatchewan and farming vegetables on a quarter section of land near
      the riverbank outside Hague, Sask.

      “It slowly dawned on us, this isn’t working,” said Satzewich. “There’s
      too many hassles here.”

      His business today looks a lot different. At his old site, irrigation
      and wildlife were problems and it was difficult to find labour, which
      was the impetus for his return to the city.

      Now he lives a short drive away from where he sells his produce, his
      garage houses a prep station and a large cooler and he manages a network
      of residential garden plots, brokering deals with homeowners and
      commonly paying rent with produce as well as two larger sites just
      outside of the city.

      His wife, Gail, helps to manage another network of gardens in
      Pleasantdale, Sask.

      All tolled, Satzewich’s untraditional farm totals about an acre.

      “I’m a city slicker. Born in the city. Not necessarily wanting to live
      out in the country,” he said. “Yet I still have farming as a possibility
      even though I live in the city.”

      Satzewich will maintain his busy schedule from spring through fall,
      growing a variety of organic vegetables for market and salad greens
      geared toward restaurants, which he said accounts for about 30 percent
      of his business.

      Some of what he’s growing, such as sunflower greens, sets him apart from
      other market gardeners.

      “Nobody else is doing that. There’s a lot of things that I do, and
      operations like this can do, that large operations just don’t have the
      time for,” he said.

      “If you’ve got 10 acres in vegetables, you don’t have time for weekly
      plantings of pea greens for example.”

      There are other advantages to his small operation. He saves on input and
      machinery costs. His irrigation is a garden hose.

      He’s also able to do most of the work himself, although on this day, his
      mother would help at the farmers’ market while he and an intern worked
      in the garden.

      “I don’t have all my farming activities tied up with one land base like
      a lot of other farmers. They’re kind of held hostage to whatever
      circumstances they have,” said Satzewich.

      Over the winter months, Satzewich conducts workshops for other
      small-scale farmers. His lessons in downsizing his operation are
      documented in a series of manuals marketed under the banner of SPIN Farming.

      “Forget about the idealism. Let’s just get to the practicality and see
      that this can work as a business model. This is a very pragmatic
      approach,” said Satzewich.

      “It’s not necessarily geared towards glorifying urban agriculture, which
      I’m all into, but it’s more about the pragmatics about getting a small
      business going in an urban environment.”
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