GFP081: On The Shoulders of Giants

What separates professionals from amateurs is experience. There’s no getting around experience. You can read all the books, watch all the videos, take all the classes, but until you try and do whatever it is you’re trying to do it’s all just theory. What I cannot help be be fixated on these days is tracking that experience, documenting it, so it is easier to learn from past experiences and work toward my holistic goals on farm.

“Standing on the shoulders of giants” means that you are picking up where someone else left off. Learning from their experiences and building your own. We live in an age where information is processed and passed along at lightning speed, why not take advantage of it and start to share some of your own?

There are two sets of “giants” in your life. The first are the farmers that came before you who have written books, made the videos, set the stage, and carved the path that we’re following now. Those include the people who are discussing what they are doing in real time much the way I am doing with Farm Marketing Solutions.

The second giant is YOU! You have the opportunity every day to gain experience and build on what you have already done. You don’t need to share your experiences with anyone else. Not everyone is comfortable with airing their dirty laundry for everyone to see. But internally, within your farm, you can take pictures, take notes, create records, and detail your actions so that at any time you can go back and see exactly how and why you did something.

You make the best decisions you can at the time based on the tools (which includes knowledge) you have at the time. Looking back and thinking “man I wished I had done that” is pointless. Instead look back and say, “man, I did that and it didn’t work out. Why? What can I do to improve?” Figure out how to improve, and then go do it! Take action! No more theory! Get out there and gain more experience and embrace failure as openly as you do success.

Thomas Edison is quoted as saying, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”


In this farm podcast you will learn:

  • the story of a guy who keeps trying
  • $75k on 1/3 of an acre farming
  • the benefits of being specialized
  • the necessity of being agile
  • how being organized can save time, money, and headaches
  • it’s ok to make mistakes


Interview with Curtis Stone of Green City Acres

Before starting his urban farm in the fall of 2009, Curtis had absolutely no previous experience in farming or even gardening. Up until 2008, he had been living in Montreal, trying to make a go at being a working musician. It was many years ago, when he heard the old cliche, “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem”. That was a turning point for him in that he knew that it was important for us to be active participants in our society, rather than just being by-standers.

But it wasn’t until Curtis discovered Permaculture, while searching around on the internet for sustainable building methods, that it opened up a pandora’s box of information and inspiration for him. From there, he knew that he wanted to live in a way that was life affirming, not destructive. He left Montreal in March of 2008 to return to his home town of Kelowna, BC, to try and pursue this kind of life style. It was a bike tour down the west coast from Kelowna to San Diego in fall 2008 where he visited off-grid homesteads, eco villages, and urban farms, that inspired him to try to make a difference through his own actions.

Upon returning from the trip totally inspired and ready to do something involved in sustainable ag, but not exactly sure what yet, a friend of his directed him towards SPIN farming. The stars must have aligned at that movement because once Curtis discovered that there was a way to farm that required very little investment, no need to own land or heavy machinery, he was confident that he could do it. He spent the rest of the fall and winter of 2009 studying SPIN farming and various other gardening and farming books, and then decided to go for it. With a little bit of money saved from a 6 month season of tree-planting, he had everything he needed to start a farm.

After completing a successful and profitable first season in 2010, Curtis is a case study example that the methods taught in the SPIN farming models, are simple and easily transferable to anyone, including those who have no experience.

Through the off-season, Curtis works as public speaker on food related issues, and is a consultant for multiple community food projects throughout Kelowna. In September 2010 he was awarded ‘gardener of the year’ from the city of Kelowna’s Communities in Bloom.

Items mentioned in this farm podcast include:

Take aways:

What are you doing to document and learn from your mistakes?

Are you making time on farm for record keeping? Is it enough time?

Farm quote of the episode:

“To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.” – Leonard Bernstein

Thanks for taking the time to listen in, and let me know what you think. You can leave a comment below, send me an e-mail, reach me on Facebook , or leave a 5 star rating in iTunes if you liked the show.