Wally Satzewich is a farmer in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Canada and the lead contributor to the Backyard Riches site. He created the SPIN-Farming system which can power you to backyard riches. Here is how he developed the system.
Wally did not grow up connected to the land. In 1981, he was driving a taxi and wondering what to do with his life. He began gardening in his backyard in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, a city of about 220,000, and decided to try selling at the Saskatoon Farmers Market. That sealed his fate. He had found what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.
Like most commercial growers back then, he thought that in order to become successful, he had to have more land. So he bought 160 acres outside of Saskatoon along the Saskatchewan River, invested in an expensive irrigation system and brought in outside work crews. But he continued to live in Saskatoon and grow in his small yard there. Over time he realized he was growing high-value crops, like carrots, spinach and lettuce, in his small backyard, and growing low-value crops, like potatoes and onions, on his larger acreage outside the city.
This distinction between a high-value and low-value crop made him realize the other advantages to backyard growing. He could grow high-value crops in his yard because he was not losing them to pests, like deer and large scale insect infestations. He had the micro climate advantage which allowed him to get to market much sooner and produce much later in the season. His irrigation system was the water faucet - he did not have to depend on fluctuating river levels or worry about water quality. His work crew was he and his wife – he did not have to depend on outside labor. And, all of his markets were less than a half hour away.
Looking at the numbers is what really made his head spin. What he saw was, even though his growing space and overhead were a fraction of that of a typical size farm, their bottom lines were similar. He realized that a backyard grower could earn as much, or more, income as a large scale farmer, but with a lot less stress and overhead, and with more control over their business, and with more certainty of success from year to year. So Wally sold off all his acreage, Futility Farm he called it, and started Wally’s Urban Market Garden, which is now celebrating over 20 years in business. His experience in downsizing and becoming an urban farmer became the basis for the SPIN-Farming system.