How a first-generation farmer went from 6 to 600 acres in four years
For as long as he can remember, Gavin Spoor has wanted to farm. However, not growing up in a farming family didn’t make it easy for the 22-year-old’s dream.
“The last person to farm in my family, passed away in 1977,” said Gavin Spoor. “My dad works in town and my mom is a nurse so farming wasn’t something I could inherit.”
Growing on his own
Throughout high school, Spoor grew to love farming as he worked for a number of farmers in his community - which he says he learned a great deal from. When starting his freshman year of college four years ago, Spoor also started cash-renting his own six acres of soybeans.
At the age of 18, he took the opportunity with the six acres while balancing school and was able to pay for college classes at the University of Missouri and put a down payment on his first tractor, an International 1066.
“The reason I went to college is because I thought farming was going to be too difficult to grow and get more into,” said Spoor. “My goal was to get an ag degree and land a job with a large ag company where I’d give up my dream of full-time farming.”
Yet, Spoor continued to pick up land throughout his four years in college. Fast-forward to 2020, that 6 acres he started with in 2016 has grown to 600 acres of corn and soybeans as well as 40 acres of popcorn.
Growing with popcorn
In 2018, Spoor knew he needed to diversify his farm from the corn and soybean rotation he was growing. Spoor decided to dabble with 15 acres of popcorn that year.
“Although 2018 was a challenging year weather wise, the harvest was still bountiful,” said Spoor. “That year was a big learning curve on how I was going to make growing popcorn in Missouri work.”
In 2020, Spoor raised just over 40 acres of popcorn.
“I direct-market the popcorn through 14 local grocery stores and sell it on my website of Spoor Farms across all 50 states,” said Spoor.
Spoor says the COVID-19 pandemic has both helped and hindered his popcorn business. He has found a barrier to enter new movie theaters but has also seen a growth in grocery stores sales as consumers moved to enjoying popcorn at home.
“Trying to get the popcorn into more businesses was challenging as stores were focusing on keeping the shelves stocks with essentials such as eggs, milk, and bread,” said Spoor. “But, overall, popcorn sales have been steady this year.”
Optimisim for 2021
Spoor is excited for a year he can fully focus on the farm and not have to run back and forth to college.
“I finished up my education in May so I’m excited to devote more time to the farm instead of having to run back and forth from college,” said Spoor. “I’m looking forward to 2021 to see how I can continue to grow the operation both in size and profitability.”
Harvest 2020 was Spoor’s fourth crop. As he’s slowly growing his operation, he also picked up a seed dealership and he says is continuing to find his place in the community.