West Bend


A Bio-Intensive Market Garden

Jean-Martin Fortier - Les Jardins de la Grelinette
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Workshop Level: Intermediate
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Workshop Description

Jean-Martin Fortier is the author of The Market Gardener: A successful grower's handbook for small-scale organic farming and in this conference, he will share in detail the techniques, tools and appropriate technology that make his market garden productive and profitable.

It is popularly supposed that the small-scale market garden can no longer be economically viable, because it cannot compete with the economies of scale of the larger growers. But is that so?

Les Jardins de la Grelinette is a micro-farm located in Eastern Quebec, just north of the American border. Despite growing on 1.5 acres of land, owners Jean-Martin Fortier and Maude-Hélène Desroches manage to feed more than 200 families through their thriving CSA and seasonal market stands. For more than a decade the market garden has provided their only household income. Their operation generates close to $140,000 in sales with a profit margin of about 45%. The secret of their success resides in the low-tech, high-yield methods of production they have developed by continuously focusing on growing better rather than growing bigger, making their operation more lucrative and viable in the process.

In this conference, Jean-Martin Fortier provides an overview of all aspects of vegetable production at les Jardins de la Grelinette, demonstrating how adopting intensive methods of production can lead to the optimization of a cropping system. Specifically, he will discuss how to:

  • Set up a micro-farm by designing biologically intensive cropping systems, all with negligible capital outlay
  • Farm without a tractor, minimizing fossil fuel inputs through the use of the best hand tools, appropriate machinery and minimum tillage practices
  • How to grow mixed vegetables systematically with attention to weed and pest management best approach practices

Speaker Bio

Jean-Martin Fortier is the founder of Les Jardins de la Grelinette, an internationally recognized micro-farm known for its high productivity and profitability using low-tech, high-yield methods of production. A leading practitioner of biologically intensive cropping systems, Fortier has more than a decade’s worth of experience in small-scale organic farming. He has written articles about his work for popular magazines such as The Canadian Organic Grower, La Terre de Chez Nous and Growing for Market, and he has facilitated more than 50 workshops and conferences in Europe, Canada and the United States promoting the idea of micro-scale farming as an alternative lifestyle. Fortier also contributes occasionally as a tool and equipment adviser for companies such as Johnny’s Selected Seeds and Dubois Agrinovation. His first book, Le Jardinier-Maraîcher, sold more than 15,000 copies in the original French language since its release in the fall of 2012. The English translation of the book was undertaken when a crowdsourcing project quickly raised $20,000 to help make this valuable tool available. The Market Gardener, published by New Society Publishers, goes on sale this year.

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