Six-Figure Farming with The Market Gardener, Jean Martin Fortier


| 1/30/2015 9:56:00 AM


Tags: Jean Martin Fortier, Crystal Stevens, no-till farming, Eliot Coleman, Illinois, Maine,

the market gardener

I recently attended The Six Figure Farming Tour Conference with Jean Martin Fortier, author of The Market Gardener- A Successful Growers Handbook for Small-Scale Organic Farming. The conference was hosted by the Missouri Young Farmers Coalition a state chapter of the National Young Farmers Coalition. The daylong conference not only gave us a ton of useful information, but also allowed us to network with like minded growers. With over 140 in attendance, the conference doubled as an exciting social event to share ideas and stories with fellow farmers. In Fortier’s book, The Market Gardener, he describes how beginning farmers can follow in his footsteps to make farming on one acre profitable and fulfilling. The entirety of his garden planning is centered on building healthy soil. The Market Gardener is a comprehensive guide to small scale farming using environmentally practices and no till methods. Fortier includes well organized chapters which gives the reader equal parts knowledge, encouragement, and a touch of humor. Fortier graciously includes soil building strategies, supply lists, planting charts, weed prevention techniques, disease and insect prevention steps, garden maps, cover crop recommendations, and so much more. His book illustrates how to successfully earn a living from selling vegetables through CSA shares (Community Supported Agriculture) as well as local Farmers Markets. Fortier and his wife own Les Jardins de la Grelinette in Quebec, Canada, where four individuals operate a successful growing operation on just 1-1/2 acres of permanent raised beds. Their motivation for improving on efficiency in the fields was to increase their quality of life as a family. They wanted to spend more time just walking through the fields with their children as well as more time spent engaging with them in nature outside of the farm.

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In his workshop, Fortier described soil as the engine that runs the farming operation. The engine is the active fertile soil which contains a plethora of micro organisms, earthworms, fungi, spiders and life giving nutrients. He described a good soil as loose, breathable, and rich with bacterial life. In order to achieve this, the soil must have a nice warm temperature, have good pH balance, good aeration and drainage, and must be fed with organic matter including compost. In addition, crop rotation and cover cropping are vital components to soil health. Good soil yields good crops. The natural fertilizers Fortier uses include chicken manure from a local farm, compost that is shipped in to avoid weed seeds. Fortier has tree trimming companies that clean up along power lines deliver tree trimmings to his farm that he lays on pathways to add carbon and focus on fungi in the fields.

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