156: Keri Fox on SPIN Farming
Starting a farming business in an urban area and making it work.
Keri grew up on an organic farm in a small Saskatchewan community when organic wasn’t cool or trendy. After feeling like an outcast, and perceiving her parents as “poor,” she decided to pursue a more profitable career. After getting her electrician journeyperson license, she ran an electrical contracting business for 8 years and made good money doing this.
However, she felt her business was contributing to the destruction of the planet. Knowing she needed a change, and having recently been introduced to permaculture, she took a leap of faith and sold her business to search for a lifestyle that would help heal the planet.
Keri took a series of permaculture based workshops over the next couple of years and eventually found herself in a SPIN farming workshop. Having found what she was looking for, she immediately returned home with a “crazy idea” to farm in the city. The idea got around and she started her new business with veggies in 8 different yards in return for a weekly box of vegetables, and sold the rest at the local farmers market.
Now, at the end of 5th growing season, she works 1/3 of an acre including 7 outdoor garden spaces, one hoop house style greenhouse and an indoor micro-green operation, offers a salad box subscription that delivers to 9 restaurants as well as the weekly farmers market.
In This Podcast: Greg talks to Keri, a former electrician who quit to be a farmer because it was better for the planet. She tells why she left her successful business to run a small plot farm, and how she has developed that into quite the impressive and sustainable venture. She describes how she rides her bike from plot to plot, sells to restaurants and farmers markets, and has a salad box subscription. Farming with little-to-no land of your own can work, and she proves it in her story.
Listen in and learn about:
- Growing up on a farm and going a different direction
- Becoming an electrician and the surprising lack of fulfillment despite success
- Why she dreaded going to work
- Taking time to review what she was doing and considering something more fulfilling
- “Permaculture – a design system for sustainable living”
- Taking a permaculture course and opening her mind and connecting dots to what was making her unhappy
- SPIN farming a program to make farming profitable without the huge overhead
- Not wanting to do traditional farming and getting excited about smaller and yet still productive farming
- SPIN – Small Plot INtensive – building a farming business in sections of land
- A description of her “farm” which includes seven plots in three different groups, and using her bike to get to the local plots,
- A hoop house which is a little bit of distance away,
- Her first permanent lot on which she plans to add a greenhouse and maybe a wallapini
- Also, her basement is a grow-house for microgreens which she uses year-round
- How she gets access to new land that she can use for her farming
- How she does not need to advertise for land because the word is getting around
- How she is getting her produce into the higher end restaurants because her food tastes better
- How she is extending her growing season every year and that her seasons are going longer than others around her
- How she does the planning to work around the distance and times for the crops
- The rewarding aspects of working with her kids
- What her plans are for the future
- How she sees education and empowering others to grow their own food
- Getting around with her bike and trailer
- Front yard gardens and re-purposing that space
- The rise in popularity for gardening and healthier foods
- Some of the community activities like Seedy Sunday
- How she got motivated for the Seed Sunday event and what has happened as a result
As well as:
- How when she first started, the struggles seemed out of place to what she had been hearing but were actual reality and she needed to not take as personal failures
- Why starting out small is better when learning a new skill, despite excitement and enthusiasm
- How she believes the education and community and the we’re in it together aspect of what she is doing is her biggest success
- A little more about what drives her and how what she is doing is making a difference
- Her advice is “Just start”
Keri’s Book recommendations:
SPIN-Farming Illustrated: This Is What Farming Looks Like… – by Wally Satzewich and Roxanne Christianson
The Urban Farmer: Growing Food for Profit on Leased and Borrowed Land – by Curtis Stone
How to Contact Keri:
ALSO – take a look at our other podcast on SPIN farming to see the special deal for Podcast listeners