Building Soil and Community with Urban Food Production – Ed Garrett of Fresh Spin Farms

Agriculture, Interviews, Talk — By on 07/28/2011 20:49

Leader in Sustainable Development: Ed Garrett

The Full Interview

Audio Only

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Today I am talking with Ed Garrett about a wide variety of topics that center around urban food production. Ed owns Fresh Spin Farms which is operated on 4.5 acres and serves as a demo/training site for others to come and learn SPIN techniques (Small Plot Intensive Techniques, which is the best way to get the absolute most yield out of each square foot. There’s a good mix of information here ranging from the nitty gritty of soil building and sheet mulching to the larger community aspects of urban farming.


Interview Notes

  • Why he chose to go with spin farming
  • 4.5 acre property, setup as SPIN Farming demo/training site
  • getting Davis High School Ag program to send over interns to work on the farm
  • In the process of setting up week long training sessions
  • Participants would get the whole experience by doing all aspects of SPIN farming in a week
  • They have 1,000 sq ft in 5 different ares. 2 raised bed areas, 3 are on bare ground.
  • – showcaseweed control and delay release of compost
  • Paper mulching (sheet mulching)
  • How much time does the bed preparation add? reduces greatly. one thing to watch out for, is that if you do not have compost or paper on site already it may look more expensive. However,
  • To irrigate the entire 4.5 acres via well water it would cost 500-700 dollars per month.
  • thats the reason for sheet mulching to retain rainwater.
  • Building soil
  • His well – 330 feet deep. it is the 5th, 6th, or 7th aquifer.
  • City of Davis is planning to move to to the Sacramento River as a source because… their wells have increasing mineral deposits
  • Some shallow wells have issues with nitrates
  • Ed’s work on poverty reduction through farming
  • Instead of focusing on cash to provide for food.
  • get people to grow their own food
  • It’s not very difficult to grow food, it’s difficult to do it efficiently
  • How to create a market for people to start recycling
  • The societal norms of growing food in the front yard
  • The need to back off from our “this is mine” attitude for community gardens
  • The yard share program in Portland – each yard produces one crop and shares with other people in the yard share in order to be more efficient
  • Gleaning work- village harvest – harvesting and sharing fruiting trees
  • Increasing food prices in correlation with Spin Farming and Urban Agriculture
  • The cost of buying food in a farmers market is a bit cheaper than buying at a supermarket
  • The direct correlation between the price of oil and the price of food because of fossil fuel inputs in our industrial agriculture methods
  • Localizing food to the point where we are not shipping corn and wheat all over the world.
  • Moving our society towards a perennial based diet

Resources Mentioned



About Ed Garrett

Ed is a graduate of the International Agriculture Development program at the University of California in Davis California where Ed specialized in Rural Community Development and additionally earned a minor in Community and Regional Development.  Ed’s background in agriculture includes subsistence farming and more than 40 years working with programs from including 4-H and FFA from gardening to livestock, pasture and hay crops, conventional and organic production, and farm systems.

At Fresh Spin Farms, Ed seeks to develop a learning laboratory for community youth and interested public to build viable production and business models for urban and peri-urban agriculture.  Ed is working with a variety of stakeholders in Education, Farm to School programs, Food Banks, other area producers, and local restaurants to make this a reality.


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