Prior to reading Jean-Martin Fortier's The Market Gardener, I was a little reluctant to delve in. Word of Martin's annual revenues on his 1.5 acre veggie operation--$140K--had arrived well ahead of the book, and I was dreading the possibility that what the book would teach me, a guy with a 1.5 acre veggie business of his own that currently grosses well south of Martin's numbers, was that I didn't have the chops to succeed at farming; that the systems described within would reveal my own practices to be insurmountably misguided.
What a relief, then, to discover that the systems Fortier has used to achieve what he has are, for the most part, simply more thoughtful and mature versions of what I (and many of my colleagues) have been using. Fortier and his partner, Maude-Helen, haven't reinvented the wheel, but over their ten years in business, they've tinkered the hell out of it to make it way more efficient.
Every gardener can learn something from this book, the Millenial Generation's New Organic Grower. Early career small-scale commercial growers like me will find a hundred ways to tweak their practices for the better. Home-gardeners, almost always lacking for sufficient growing-space, will discover a number of tools and practices to help them get the most out of their small plot. And even veteran commerical growers will find a few fresh insights that their own adherance to custom may have prevented them from seeing.
Fortier is a big believer in achieving a good work-life balance, and makes no apologies for any compromises made on the road to a decent income. He uses a lot more materials--various plastic mulches, insect nets, row covers, greenhouse films--than a lot of us with the goal of making a living and living lightly on the earth are comfortable with. But that's okay. Even drinking Fortier Light, I'm going to be able to improve my bottom line.
By Jordan Marr
The appendices alone are worth the price of admission. Find them, and 150 other pages of good advice, at themarketgardener.com.
Listen to Jordan's podcast of an interview with Author and Farmer Jean Martin Fortier here.
Jordan Marr is an organic veggie grower in Peachland. You can read more of his writing at thehomesteadorganicfarm.ca/blog
Local Farmer and food activist, Curtis Stone and Jean-Martin Fortier visit Salted Brick in Kelowna - Thumbs up!
Pictured left to right: Curtis Stone - Green City Acres, Chef Jason Leizert - Salted Brick, Jean-Martin Fortier