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