The Sattin Hill Farm Course

Sattin Hill Farm Course

Welcome to the Sattin Hill Farm Course! 

This course is designed for aspiring backyard homesteaders, gardeners, market farmers, and basically anyone interested in growing their own food! 

Within this course, you will learn all of the systems and techniques that Josh Sattin has refined on his successful no-till market garden. Josh’s farm is located in Raleigh, North Carolina (zone 7b) on a two-acre lot. With just under an eighth of an acre in production, you’ll be amazed at what he is able to produce in such a small space.

As you work through the course, remember that all of Josh’s systems might not translate exactly to your specific context, so focus on the principles and concepts, and how they might work for you. There are so many different ways to approach farming. These are the methods Josh has found to work for him in his context.

Check back here each week to get exclusive resources for the course.

Also sure to check out our podcast Farm Small Farm Smart

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Module 1: Setting Goals

If your goal is to homestead, or even farmstead, that’s great!

The important thing is to make sure your goals are clear, and that they make sense for your family’s finances. If you’re considering farming as a business, you will need some capital to start. This will require more than just a few thousand dollars. You’ll need to invest in infrastructure, building your business, marketing, and all of the other expenses that come along with starting a viable business.

It’s also important to consider the possibility that this might not end up being what you want to do, and the only way to find that out is to actually do it. You’ll be learning as you go, and that is okay! Starting off with homesteading or farmsteading is a great way to do this without so much investment all at once. You’ll be slowly building up your equity in the infrastructure before taking on any debt.

Download the Module 1 Guide.

Module 2: Researching Your Market and Selling Products

A lot of farmers get into farming because they enjoy the growing part of it. They enjoy soil science, crops, and growing food. While that is a huge part of being a farmer, if you don’t have a sustainable business, the truth is you won’t be farming long term. To be successful, you need to learn how to grow the crops, but equally important is knowing how to run a business.

A lot of farmers starting out have that “if you build it, they will come” mentality. Josh fell into that trap himself. While he was still able to make it work, his hope is that this module will help you avoid some of those early rookie mistakes.

Download the Module 2 Guide.

Module 3: Crop Selection and Pricing

Once you’ve come up with your business plan and researched your local market, it’s time to start growing! In this module, you’ll learn how to choose which crops to grow, what season to grow them in, how to select the best varieties, and how to determine pricing. All of these decisions will inform how to build your business model.

Download the Module 3 Guide.

Module 4: Finding Land & Farm Design

When starting a farm, there are many big picture considerations, such as land acquisition. You will also have to consider your farm layout, design, and set up systems. Investing time and thought into this before you begin will significantly increase your efficiency once your farm is up and running. This module will walk you through the process of finding land and designing a farm.

Download the Module 4 Guide.

Module 5: Preparing Soil & Creating Beds

In this module, you will learn about Josh Sattin’s preferred method for preparing soil and creating beds, called the deep compost mulch system. 

We’ll go over the pros and cons of this approach, as well as how Josh creates compost, builds beds and walkways, and how he incorporates mulch.

Download the Module 5 Guide.

Module 6: No-Till Practices & Living Soil

In this module, Josh goes over what the term “no-till” means and why he practices no-till. 

He also covers the principles behind creating and maintaining living soil, amendments, and fertility, and how he prepares and flips a bed.

No-till (or no-tillage) is a broad term defined differently by different farmers, and it can encompass a lot of different techniques and approaches in farming. Tillage is best understood as soil disturbance which harms the biology and structure of the soil. The goal of no-till farming is to improve the soil over time instead of making it worse.

Download the Module 6 Guide.

Module 7: Crop Planning

Once you have decided on which crops you want to grow (refer to Module 3), you have to figure out your crop plan. The best time to think about this is during your slow season. It’s the perfect time to plan out what crops to grow and how much of each crop you want. That will determine your seed order.

Download the Module 7 Guide.

Module 8: Tunnels

Module 8 is all about tunnels. How you choose the correct tunnel for your farm, how to build a tunnel, modify a tunnel, irrigation, and more. There are many reasons why you might want to add tunnels. Josh feels tunnels are instrumental for the operation of his farm and credits them with doubling his production.

Download the Module 8 Guide.

Module 9: Winter Growing

Module 9 is all about winter growing and how to protect your crops using row cover, winter irrigation, moisture control, plumbing and freezing issues, and winter transplanting and direct seeding.

Download the Module 9 Guide.

Module 10: Irrigation

Module 10 is all about irrigation: overhead vs. drip irrigation, irrigation system design, your water source, running water lines on your farm, timers, hand watering, and sources for finding irrigation supplies.

Josh recommends designing your irrigation system initially with your overall farm design. If you set up your farm and try to add irrigation, you’ll likely run into complications. When designing your field blocks, start with irrigation plans. If you’re growing tunnels, there are also great systems for irrigation.

Download the Module 10 Guide.

Module 11: Nursery Management

In this Module 11, Josh covers the benefits of having a nursery, nursery set up, soil blocks, the timing of transplants, hardening off of transplants, and lots of other great tips. 

The nursery is a crucial piece of infrastructure that often gets overlooked when first starting a small farm. A lot of your time will be spent in the nursery planting seeds and propagating starts, so having a strategically dedicated space should be a high priority when designing your farm.

Download the Module 11 Guide.

Module 12: Transplanting and Interplanting

In this module, Josh goes over the benefits of transplanting crops, techniques for transplanting, alternative approaches, and interplanting. Overall, Josh prefers transplanting instead of direct seeding as much as possible. He cites larger yields as the primary reason for this. When growing on a small plot as he does, strategies to maximize yields are well worth employing.

Download the Module 12 Guide.

Module 13: Direct Seeding

In this module, Josh goes over the benefits of transplanting crops, techniques for transplanting, alternative approaches, and interplanting. Overall, Josh prefers transplanting instead of direct seeding as much as possible. He cites larger yields as the primary reason for this. When growing on a small plot as he does,

This module is all about direct seeding– why you should do it, how to use a precision seeder, the impact of temperature and moisture on direct seeding, and more!

As mentioned in the previous module, there are many advantages of transplanting over direct seeding; however, in Josh’s experience at Sattin Hill Farm, certain crops do better when directly seeded: carrots, baby kale, arugula, spinach, radish, and turnips.

Download the Module 13 Guide.

Module 14: Tools and Supplies

In this module, Josh reviews the tools needed for bed prep, soil work, harvesting, planting, and nursery management.

Josh has gone over some of the tools he uses in previous modules, but this module will consolidate that information into one place and additional details. There are links to vendors where these tools can be purchased.

Over the last few years of refining his systems, Josh has narrowed down his selection of tools, thinning out those that weren’t necessary.  He reduced clutter and increased efficiency.

Download the Module 14 Guide.

Module 15: Pest Management

In this module, Josh goes over his approach to pesticides, growing crops at the right time, and his personal pest management strategies.

Every farm has its own particular nuances when it comes to pest pressure. While Josh’s approach to pest management will contain some strategies that apply to his specific context, the principles behind them are universal.  Your geographic location, weather, soil type, and crop selection will all determine what kind of specific pest issues you have.

Josh’s approach to pest management focuses on long-term solutions, as opposed to just treating symptoms of immediate problems. A running theme throughout this course is the idea of planning ahead and designing systems that save time, lead to higher yields, and ultimately more profit on the farm.

Download the Module 15 Guide.

Module 16: Weed Management

This module delves into Josh Sattin’s approach to weed management, including long-term strategies, cultivation methods, and borders and paths. 

A solid weed management plan for your farm is crucial. Out-of-control weeds add unneeded stress, consume your time, and ultimately decrease your farm’s profitability.

Download the Module 16 Guide.

Module 17: Composting

In this module, Josh discusses the many aspects of composting. He addresses determining compost needs, timeframes, building a compost setup, moisture, inputs, carbon sources, temperature, inoculating compost, how to build a pile, and finishing options for compost.

Before deciding on the compost program you would like to implement on your farm or property, it’s essential to determine your compost needs.

Josh used to raise chickens as well before he scaled back to focus on only vegetables. He gave the old crop residue from the farm and his kitchen scraps to the chickens. Once he phased out the chickens, he needed a new composting system incorporating the garden’s plant waste. 

Josh’s primary motivation for composting is not to produce everything he needs for the farm but rather to have a method for processing farm waste. It’s about keeping that fertility on the farm rather than sending it elsewhere.

Download the Module 17 Guide.

Module 18: Wash Pack Station

This module discusses the importance of an efficient wash pack station, plumbing, water source, Josh’s personal setup, workflow, refrigeration, and more. There are specific elements required for the infrastructure of a wash pack station. Configuring a streamlined layout for an efficient flow of operations is ultimately more important than what kind of equipment you have. 

Market farmers spend 50-70% of their time washing and packing vegetables. Any efforts to make this part of the process more efficient will save you time and energy to put into other tasks.

When designing your wash pack station, consider efficiency and flow. How will workers move through the space? How will the product flow through the space? Visualizing all of the required steps in the process is vital when creating your design.

The size and layout of your space will largely contribute to its design. For Josh, he was working within the constraints of a two-car garage, and he knew he would be typically working alone. However, if you have a crew or might have a crew down the road, it is in your best interest to design your wash pack station accordingly.

Download the Module 18 Guide.

Module 19: Harvesting, Washing, Packaging, and Selling

This module covers harvest tools and tips, including when to harvest and how to harvest specific things like lettuce, baby greens, root crops, and kale. In addition, Josh shares his methods for packaging, selling, and delivering produce.

Download the Module 19 Guide.