SPIN-Farming: advancing urban agriculture from pipe dream to populist movement
Photo by Martin Barrett, City Garden Farms, Dan Bravin, here using a seeder, farms about a dozen backyard lots in Portland, Oregon, using an approach referred to as SPIN Farming.
Sustainability: Science, Practice, & Policy Volume 3 Issue 2
Co-author, SPIN-Farming, an online learning series on subacre farming
Author’s Personal Statement
I began advocating for urban agriculture in Philadelphia in 1998. What appealed to me is what draws many people to the cause: its social and environmental benefits are obvious and easy to understand. But it quickly became apparent that, compelling though they are, these benefits were not enough to motivate policy makers in a position to help urban agriculture succeed on any kind of scale. Instead, the economic benefits that many proponents had long acknowledged in theory, but few were able to demonstrate, had to be proven. SPIN-Farming is a very powerful tool for validating the economic viability of urban agriculture.
However, while I had initially focused on solving some urban problems, it became clear that SPIN could also help to revive the farming profession, and this is where my professional background came into play. My working life has been spent helping entrepreneurs position, package, and promote their ideas and build them into successful businesses. In helping to develop SPIN, I applied that experience to farming. The big opportunities I see for SPIN-Farming are that it provides a farming concept that can be learned and practiced across all economic classes and geographical boundaries, and that it will foster engaged, rather than escapist, agriculture, whereby farmers return to cities and towns and rebuild local food systems that are human in scale and joyful in spirit.