Backyard farming can be productive and profitable.
Not all farmers are poor.
We’ve all heard the stories of small farmers barely scraping by… of how hard it is to make a living farming… and the heartbreaking stories of how so many with a dream and a farm, end up giving up when they can’t make ends meet.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
“There has never been a better time to get into farming.”
Communities of old were strengthened by the tradition of neighbor helping neighbor. Education was largely kids learning from parents, neighbors older siblings who were taught by elders and tradesmen. This was the pre-industrial era education system, and it worked.
We’re staunch advocates of learning from those who are doing what we’re aspiring to do. And while neighborhoods are different, there are still communities that help each other, though some of them are online communities, they’re still a vast resource for information, assistance, encouragement and support.
You only need to spend a little time in online communities that are about things you’d like to do or learn. We see this all the time on the Gardens All Facebook page, the Planting for Retirement Facebook Group, or groups like the Market Garden Success Facebook group. In these and many others, knowledge and experience is freely shared, relationships formed and a genuine interest in each others progress. Virtual cheerleaders, leaders and educators.
Then there are successful farmers like, Jean-Martin Fortier, author of, The Market Garden: a Successful Gardener’s Handbook for Small-scale Organic Farming. Jean-Martin, along with his wife, Maude-Helene Desroches, have been farming very profitably for over 15 years now. Jean-Martin, (a.k.a. JM) says:
“Why not replace mass agriculture with agriculture by the masses.”
We purchased The Market Gardener book around a year ago, and have read through it, and tagged a number of pages we’ve come back to time and again. It’s incredibly well laid out, easy to follow, easy—and interesting—to ready as a book, and to reference regularly as a handbook or farmer’s guide.
The Annual Sales chart on page 14 shows the most profitable plants, sales rank by bed and even the garden space occupied by each crop.
Here at GardensAll, we still just have two small gardens. Our “upper garden” and “lower garden”, that we keep expanding. We’re not yet ready to be growing for profit. We will need to prepare another area of land for larger scale growing when the time comes, because our current gardens are limited in size by the surrounding woods. So now is a great time for deep dive research into all aspects of growing for profit.
To succeed, It’s important to get into farming—or any business—with your eyes wide open.
Too many people start a business from their passion for doing what they do, more than from a good business plan. By business plan, we don’t mean fancy documents with more pages than will ever be read again. We do mean, good research and evaluation on which crops to grow and what kind of market we want to focus on, based on the market need, our personal interests and the land, space and other resources available to us.
So we were thrilled for the opportunity to have a video interview with Jean-Martin, to connect and to have the opportunity to learn from him directly and to share that conversation with you.
The 1.5 hour visit with Jean-Martin Fortier was fantastic.
JM is very personable, engaging, warm, and a wealth of knowledge and wisdom. In fact, we’d say that:
Jean-Martin Fortier is a practical visionary with good business sense.
The Bad News.
Technology is great. Until it isn’t.
We’ve been using the Zoom.us video conferencing application for years now, and it’s been great. We’ve had two failed recordings in 3 years. They were user errors. Mine.
This time… of all times, there was a failure in the rendering after the recording. It was not user error, but it doesn’t make it any less frustrating at not having that to share with you. According to the Zoom support, it’s just one of those inexplicable technological mysteries where something didn’t work as it should have.
We still recommend Zoom, if you need a good way to record conference calls, interviews, training videos, etc. However, we’re going to implement some additional safeguards now to do our very best to prevent this from ever happen again.
We’re so sorry to have had this happen to JM and for you, our audience, because that’s why we do this in the first place. Each interview represents approximately a days work, minimum, to prepare then to write, edit and publish.
So you can imagine how our hearts sank.
We said our goodbyes at the end of a wonderful conversation with JM, saw the video immediately go into “rendering”… but… what? The rendering stopped way too quickly. Hmmm… that should’ve take a lot longer. Turns out that the video was only able to render the first 2:55 minutes of an approximately 90 minute interview. ? ? ?
However, in the end, as long-ago boss once told me:
“Just another bug on the windshield of life.” Mickey Megginson
So live, learn, move on and don’t repeat! ?
Video Recording Technical Failure Prevention
We still recommend Zoom. It wasn’t their fault either. Again, stuff just happens. Their solution, which we will now employ every time is to record the session to the Zoom cloud rather than to our desktop. That’s the only way the Zoom’s technology can be guaranteed, as it minimizes the glitches between devices, wifi connections, etc.
From now, we will be hyper prepared. We will:
- Record to the Zoom cloud
- Have a secondary back-up recording via iPhone audio app
- Employ a tertiary back-up recording via iPad video recording
Stuff happens. Pests eat plants. Some crops fail. Systems fail. Technology fails. And… we keep on growing and keep on going.
In the end, it’s a great reminder that even the best laid plans can go awry, however, with systems and backup systems and backups to the backups, we all stand a better chance of success than failure.
So we recovered, then Coleman and I immediately sat back down to record all that we remembered of our conversation with Jean-Martin Fortier. We’re deeply sorry to not be able to share that entire interview with you… to not have his cheerful face and lyrical French-Canadian accent and good humor–and wisdom—in his own voice. But we believe we’ve done a good job of recounting most of what we discussed.
Micro farming teaches planning, resiliency, adaptability, hard work, community and interdependency.
And… we hope to have another chance to do a follow-up interview with JM before the year’s over. We want you to also be able to enjoy that face-to-face and personable experience with Jean-Martin Fortier, “The Market Gardener”, as much as we did, because well… sharing is our thing.
The Market Gardener – Successful Micro-farming – Part 1
Intro to our Interview with Jean-Martin Fortier (before the technology blip):
In Part 2 of our “failed” interview with Jean-Martin Fortier, Coleman and I recap the interview, while it was still very fresh on our minds. Jean-Martin Fortier answerer many important questions for anyone considering growing for profit.
We hope you’ll enjoy this recap, even though it’s missing JM wonderful presence, it contains his wisdom.
Jean-Martin Fortier is a visionary leader for successful microfarming and a return to the family farm.
The Market Gardener – Successful Micro-farming – Part 2
Join us as we recover from the “failed” recording of the wonderful conversation and interview with Jean-Martin Fortier, of Les Jardins de la Grelinette, in Quebec, Canada.
Here are some of the interesting farm topics discussed:
- How JM and his wife, Maude-Hélène got started in farming.
- JM’s recommendation on how to start a small farm.
- How much revenue per acre and half acre Les Jardins de la Grelinette earns.
- How much of that revenue is gross income versus net profit… (how much JM gets to keep for raising and supporting his family comfortably).
- What percentages of businesses fail in the first 5 years.
- How JM got started and how long it took to reach 6 figure income.
- About JM’s new 7 acre farm and which is more profitable: 1.5 acres or 7 acres.
- How much revenue and profit for each farm, (just farming, not counting his book and training programs).
- Which percentage of sales come from what market sources.
- Whether JM is growing year round using greenhouses, and why/why not.
- How many hours per week farmers work.
- How much farm jobs pay.
- How much farm managers make.
- Which produce markets are the easiest or most profitable and why.
- JM’s recommendations on starting slowly versus going into debt to farm.
- Main reasons small growers fail or succeed.
- JM’s newest farm, internships and training programs underway.
- The most demanding crop to grow for public demand.
- JM’s take on seed saving
- And more!
We hope you’ll enjoy our recount of the time with Jean-Martin Fortier, The Market Garden Entrepreneur and family farm success story!
LeAura Alderson and Coleman Alderson of GardensAll.com and PlantingForRetirement.com.
Visit The Market Gardener Website
For more fantastic inspiration, information and resources, visit TheMarketGardener.com, and view their video trailer. You can get your copy of, The Market Gardener: a Successful Gardener’s Handbook for Small-scale Organic Farming, from JM’s website, or on Amazon.
In our estimation, JM’s book contains thousands of dollars in lessons and experience… in other words well over a decade of knowledge from a successful farmer. That’s better than any degree you can obtain, if your dream is to simply have a successful family farm!
Visit the Training Farm Website – Ferme Quatre Temps
Stay tuned for Jean-Martin’s Master Course, now in the works.
If you’re interested in applying for intern positions, you can check into that here.
However, since JM can only take up to 10 paid interns to earn while learning on his new farm, you can also visit the training farm website for updates on the release of JM’s Master Course. The master course is already in the works where they are packaging all of the intern lessons from in the field, into video and PDF training sessions you can do from the comfort of your home on your own schedule. FermeQuatreTemps.com.
“Our world needs more farmers.”
Thank you, Jean-Martin Fortier for leading the way!
I’m LeAura Alderson, entrepreneur, ideator, media publisher, writer and editor of GardensAll.com. Pursuits in recent years have been more planting seeds of ideas for business growth more than gardening. However, I’ve always been interested in medicinal herbs and getting nutrition and healing from food over pharmacy. As a family we’re eager to dig more deeply into gardening and edible landscape for the love of fresh organic foods and self sustainability. We thoroughly enjoy and appreciate the creative ingenuity of the GardensAll community.