Les Jardins de la Grelinette is a micro-farm located in eastern Quebec, just north of the American border. Growing on just 1.5 acres, owners Jean-Martin and Maude-Helène feed more than two hundred families through their thriving CSA and seasonal market stands and supply their signature mesclun salad mix to dozens of local establishments. The secret of their success is the low-tech, high-yield production methods they’ve developed by focusing on growing better rather than growing bigger, making their operation more lucrative and viable in the process.
The Market Gardener is a compendium of la Grelinette’s proven horticultural techniques and innovative growing methods. This complete guide is packed with practical information on:
- Setting-up a micro-farm by designing biologically intensive cropping systems, all with negligible capital outlay
- Farming without a tractor and minimizing fossil fuel inputs through the use of the best hand tools, appropriate machinery, and minimum tillage practices
- Growing mixed vegetables systematically with attention to weed and pest management, crop yields, harvest periods, and pricing approaches
Inspired by the French intensive tradition of maraichage
and by iconic American vegetable grower Eliot Coleman, author and farmer Jean-Martin shows by example how to start a market garden and make it both very productive and profitable. Making a living wage farming without big capital outlay or acreages may be closer than you think.
About the Author
Jean-Martin Fortier and his wife Maude-Helene Desroches are the founders of Les Jardins de la Grelinette, an internationally recognized micro-farm famous for its high productivity-profitability using low-tech, high-yield methods of production. A leading practitioner of biologically intensive cropping systems, Jean-Martin has more than a decade's worth of experience in mixed organic farming. He has written articles about his work for popular magazines such as Canadian Organic Grower, La Terre de Chez Nous
and Growing for Market
. He also contributes occasionally as a tool and equipment advisor for companies such as Johnny's Selected Seeds and Dubois Agrinovation. The original French language version of this book, Le Jardinier-Maraicher
, released in Fall 2012, has sold more than 15,000 copies.
"Jean-Martin's book is very well done and should be of great use to market growers everywhere. Exchange of ideas and information is so important because when we pass ideas on, the next person gets to start where we got to and take the ideas to another level."--Eliot Coleman, organic farming pioneer and author of the Winter Harvest Handbook "I've read this book in French and all I can say is that, if you want to engage yourself in the market gardening, The Market Gardener is far more than a simple manual, it's the story of a life and a major giveaway of knowledge without the shadow of a secret. A must have, nothing else."--Michel Michiels, Arlon / Belgium "We are so excited that Le Jardinier-Maraicher is finally translated in English! This book was an inspiration for many of our French members (we are a farmers' co-op) and now we can recommend it to all ... especially to the new generation interested in small scale farming...Thank you!"--Nicole Briand Communications, La Recolte de Chez Nous / Really Local Harvest "In his revolutionary book, JMF brings about a change of paradigm that couldn't come any sooner. New gardeners will find in this book a step-by-step recipe that almost guarantees success, while the more seasoned ones can use it as a steppingstone for future achievements. Ever since its release in Quebec, it has reached thousands of readers and caused a ripple of benefits: people of all ages, especially the young, can now aspire to buy or rent their own land and live a fulfilling--and profitable--life in the countryside, which a few years back was still a wild dream for most of us. Aside from being very technically dense, it offers viable solutions to social problems such as land access, unemployment in regions, and the unsustainable nature of modern agricultural practices. It has literally been training an entire army of Davids that is now starting to address the bulk of these problems, or Goliath. And it's happening all across the province! Most importantly, this book deeply inspired me and gave me hope for the future without having to consult an eco-therapist."--Alexandre J-Nicole, Biologist, graphic designer and illustrator "Jean-Martin Fortier extols the virtues of being small-scale, and expertly details the use of such scale-appropriate tools as broadforks, seeders, hoes, flame weeders, low tunnels, high tunnels, and many other unique tools, specifically designed for this brand of farming. He picks up right where Eliot Coleman has left us, applying many of his core principles, but doing it in such a brilliant way as to provide beginning farmers a solid framework of the information they need to start up and become successful small-scale organic growers themselves.--Adam Lemieux, Product Manager of Tools & Supplies, Johnny's Selected Seeds
Preface: From erable spring to arable spring? 6 Acknowledgements 10 Foreword 111. Small is Beautiful 13 But Can You Make a Living at It? 14 Not Just Making a Living, but Living Well 152. Succeeding as a Vegetable Grower 17 The Biointensive Method 17 Minimizing Start-Up Costs 19 Minimizing Production Costs 20 Direct Selling 21 Value-Added Vegetables 25 Learning the Craft 253. Finding the Right Land 27 Climate and Microclimate 27 Market Access 29 Arable Land 30 Soil Quality 31 Topography 33 Drainage 34 Access to Water 35 Infrastructure 36A Word on Pollution 384. Setting Up Your Farm 40 Organizing Your Work Space 40 Standardizing Your Growing Space 40 Locating Your Greenhouses and Tunnels 44 Deer Protection 44 Windbreaks 45 Irrigation 465. Minimum Till and Alternative Machinery 48 The Beauty of Permanent Beds 49 The Two-Wheel Tractor 50 The Broadfork (Grelinette) 53 Tarps and Pre-Crop Ground Cover 54 The Future of Minimum Till 546. Organic Fertilizer 56 The Importance of Soil Testing 57 Crop Requirements 59 The Elements of Fertility 60 Compost 63 Granulated Poultry Manure 64Crop Rotation 65Green Manures 71Your Personal Sense of Humus 797. Growing Indoors 81Seeding in Cell Flats 82The Importance of a Good Soil Mix 82The Seedling Room 84The Plant Nursery 86Heating and Ventilation 87Watering 88Potting Up 90Transplanting 908. Direct-Seeding 94Precision Seeders 94Seedbed Preparation 96Record Keeping 979. Weed Control 100Hoeing 101Smothering 102The False Seedbed Technique 103Flame Weeding 104Mulching 10510. Insect Pests and Diseases 107Scouting 109Prevention 109Biopesticides 11111. Season Extension 113Row Cover 113Caterpillar Tunnels 115Permanent Hoophouses 11612. Harvest and Storage 118The Importance of Harvesting Efficiently 120Harvest Help 120The Cold Room 12113. Crop Planning 123Determining Your Production 124Establishing Your Crop Calendar 127Making a Garden Plan 128Record Keeping 128Conclusion: Agricultural Policy: Back to the Future 132Appendix 1: Crop Notes 134Appendix 2: A Gardening Story 168Appendix 3: Garden Plan 172Appendix 4: Glossary 184Annotated Bibliography 192Tool and Equipment Suppliers 198