By Ben Marshall
The Vandalia Leader
Gavin Spoor is a single, first generation farmer who has a popcorn business that has taken while being a student.
Spoor is 21 and a junior at the University of Missouri, who has about a year left in school. He currently is focused on using his income generated by Spoor Farms Popcorn to pay for college. He says he goes to class by day and packages popcorn by night.
Spoor says he loves the process. Not only of growing the popcorn, but being able to use it as a vessel to tell others where their food comes from. He says with the internet he can reach so many more people and spread the message about here is how we are farming, here is why we are doing it, and, that we are trying to feed the world. He went on to say that other foods go through a good deal of processing, but with popcorn the crop goes directly to the consumer.
Spoor then said he bought a planter and this past summer he farmed a little over 100 acres planting corn, soybeans, and popcorn. “I’m still selling the popcorn, it’s going well.” “This year I plan to farm some more ground. I’ve bought a combine, an old used combine. I guess the banks bought the combine, but I’m working on paying them back.” Spoor said with a chuckle. “I’ve got a great relationship with the bank in Martinsburg, Missouri, and then Farm Credit Services in Mexico. Two awesome loan officers.”
Spoor also has found time between college classes and his work on the farm to speak to FFA Chapters at Centralia and Community R-VI . He also has spoken to the kids at St. Joseph School in Martinsburg.
Spoor said he wanted his first outlet for his product to be from his roots. “No matter where I might go in the future. No matter how big things get in the future, I want my first store to be in Martinsburg.” His first outlet store is in Martinsburg at Martinsburg Farmers Elevator.
Spoor Farms popcorn can now be found being sold at 10 outlet locations up to this point in Missouri.
• Martinsburg Farmers Elevator
• Burg Express-Martinsburg formerly “Kwik Stop”
• Redline Pizza-Vandalia
• Sydenstricker Implement-Mexico
• Cranes Country Store-Williamsburg off Old US 40
• Montgomery Hardware-Montgomery City
• Wright City Hardware
• Vehige Hardware Store-Foristell
• Hickman’s in Perry
“My goal is to one day eventually raise a family on a farm. Since no one in my family farms, I would like to be able to support a family and some children on a farm,” Spoor said. “With the way corn and bean prices fell down lately I had to look for a specialty crop. I had thought about vegetables, but doing that and sitting by a road side stand well, I don’t have time for all that because I am still a full time college student. So I got to brain storming and I thought, well popcorn would be great because it has a long shelf life and I can use similar equipment. So I ask my neighbor for a small patch to rent and just started running with it. I got some seed together and talked to others who were doing similar things in other states, and it’s been fun so far. Down the road long term I would like to grow the popcorn operation and a the whole farm in general to a size that can support myself and then a family. Eventually hopefully make enough money that I could give back somehow to help other kids, to inspire them, and help them to get going also…I would like to grow as large as possible, but I never want to get to the size that I can’t be the one who gets to go and enjoy driving the tractor. I’m a farmer. I don’t want to get stuck in an office doing paperwork all day. I want to be able to get out into the field because that is what I enjoy doing, being in the field.”
Spoor talked in detail about his farming influences.
“ The last person to farm in the direct linage of my family was my grandpa, and he passed away in 1977. My Dad works at Harbison Walker in Vandalia, and my Mom works in Mexico as a nurse at a clinic. I do have two uncles that farm but they are pretty far away, so I have been just networking with local guys. I’ve been riding with local farmers since I was little, since I was old enough to poke my head over the kitchen window seal, I was watching tractors in the field. Once I got old enough, my mom would give them, (area farmers), a call after I got home from school and I would go ride in the buddy seat of the tractor with them for hours and just bug them with questions. It’s just been a passion of mine. My first farm was my freshman year of college. I rented six acres and I planted soybeans on it. The guy I was I was working for at the time doing a summer internship with took good care of me. He let me use his equipment and he combined it and hauled it to town, and I used that money to put a down payment on my first tractor.”
Spoor then commented that they think he’s crazy, but at the same time think it’s awesome.
The second farm Gavin Spoor farmed was actually his late grandpa’s farm that had been grass for the past 15 or 20 years that is now owned by his uncle.
Spoor cleaned it up and removed some trees and used it to plant soybeans. Gavin Spoor comments, “It was really neat thinking that 40 years ago or so grandpa was doing the same thing.”
Find out more about Spoor Farms at spoorfarms.com.