This episode is a review of Jean-Martin Fortier’s book The Market Gardener.
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The Market Gardener
As always, I’m a fan of people who write books on subjects that they know well, especially when that expertise comes through in their writing and the final product. That’s true with this book, and was reflected in my interview with Jean-Martin, which is out later this year.
For those of you interested in small scale farming, like I discussed with my friend Erin Harvey or what Peter Bane outlines in The Permaculture Handbook, The Market Gardener is a good companion. This is a practical book about starting and running your own operation. Inside you’ll find what Jean-Martin is able to do on one and a half acres, and the life that he enjoys as a result with his wife and children.
He discusses the start-up and production costs, the process of direct selling, value added crops, and how to learn how to garden. You’ll also read about finding the right site, including climate, having enough growing space, and access to water. You’ll see his layout and design of his market garden is also included, which you can easily compliment and expand on by applying the principles of permaculture. Further he has the tools you’ll need, how to fertilize, how to starting seeds, managing weeds, pests, and diseases, extending the season, harvesting and storage, and crop planning.
That quick list covers the first 2/3rds of the book. The final third is divided between five appendices including Crop Notes, Tools and Suppliers, Garden Plan, and an Annotated Bibliography and Glossary.
Those details are you can expect to find between the covers, but that’s not why I really like this book for someone interested in starting a market farm. Rather, I like the transparency that is present in all the myriad of tables discussing things like the start-up costs (p 9), the sales figures for Jean-Martin’s own farm (p 14), or the various amounts of fertilizer that he uses (p 56). Though these amounts will vary, often widely, based on where you live, there is something here to get started with, to get an idea of whether or not you can afford to get started and use the information presented as a model for your work.
There are more tables and pictures showing the garden layout as it exists on the ground, a 10-year crop rotation, planting dates, production calculations, tips for setting up a washing station, a harvesting list to begin each harvest day and create a priority of work flow, and on and on. Much of the guess work of small scale farming is taken away and you can focus on learning about your local area, including the best things to plant, the markets to reach out to, and getting started growing.
Even if you’re not a market gardener or looking to farm professionally and just want to grow more food for your family, this is a good resource for a Zone 1 vegetable garden in a permaculture design.
I wish I had had this book, and Peter Bane’s, earlier in my permaculture career, especially when designing my front yard garden. Even though I joke that I’m an awful gardener, and that self-deprecating position still applies to my personal assessment, I do enjoy working with in the soil, and look forward to using the ideas presented in Jean-Martin Fortier’s The Market Gardener in the re-implementation of my front yard vegetable garden, and as my wife develops her herb and flower garden.
You can find out more about this book at TheMarketGardener.com, where you can order a copy of the book directly from the author for $24.95 plus shipping.
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