Small scale farming can be productive, fun and profitable.
If you think you need a lot of land to earn a decent living from farming, we’ve got good news. You don’t! We learned so much about what’s possible with the small scale micro farm from “The Market Gardener”, Jean-Martin Fortier, who’s known for earning six figures on just two acres.
Not all farmers are poor.
We’ve probably all heard the stories of hard working farmers who gave up on their dreams when they couldn’t make ends meet. Abandoned dreams are heartbreaking.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
“There has never been a better time to get into farming.”
Return of the Micro Farm… the Way it Used to Be
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.
We purchased The Market Gardener book a few years ago. We’re not yet ready to farm our acreage beyond our little garden patches, but when we are, we’ll be ready.
We’ve read through it The Market Gardener from front to back, and have 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 read as a book, and to reference regularly as a handbook or farmer’s guide.
“Why not replace mass agriculture with agriculture by the masses.”~Jean-Martin Fortier, author-The Market Gardener
Yes… Let’s! See what’s possible on a micro farm of just 1.5 acres!!!
GardensAll’s Future Micro Farm
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 as our current garden space is just enough for growing supplemental food for our family. We will need to prepare another area of land for larger scale growing when the time comes.
So now… before you’re ready to start, is the best for a 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.
Those who approach micro farming and market gardening like a business rather than merely a hobby, are the most likely to succeed.~GardensAll.com
How to Create a Successful Micro Farm
Too many people start a business from their passion for doing what they do, more than from a good business plan. This applies to all areas of business endeavors.
By business plan, we don’t mean fancy documents with more pages than will ever be read again. We do mean, good research, evaluation and planning, because that’s what makes all the difference.
CREATIVITY:~LeAura Alderson, iCreateDaily.com
Ideas rarely arrive in linear fashion. Rather, they sprout like weeds in spring determined to grow. Plant your best ideas in the fertile soil of daily effort.
Research Now Saves Heartache Later
We’ve all seen them… the shiny new shop or restaurant in town. A few years later, there’s a sign on the door: “Out of Business“. The shop stands empty, awaiting the next hopeful proprietor. We’ve probably also seen the thriving market stands amidst the not-so-thriving.
To succeed, you need to research which crops to grow based on a number of factors. You’ll want to consider your preferences, what grows in your area, what’s selling, the length from seed to harvest, etc.
You may want to be a lavender farmer, but find that it’s hard to grow in your soil. Or, perhaps the market for lavender is saturated.
Research will reveal resources and revenue opportunities for your micro farm. Research before investing resources and plan before planting, for the greatest chance of success.
Most growers love to talk about their farms because it’s their passion. Those who love to share may talk your ear off. Those who are closed and afraid of competition won’t want to share. This will inform you who you want to spend more time getting to know.
A little planning now will save a lot of heartache later. Research, plan, set goals and work them daily.
Daily steps in the direction of your dreams is a proven path to success.~LeAura Alderson, Cofounder-iCreateDaily.com
Want to be a Micro Farmer? Questions to Ask and Research
There are many things to consider. You’ll see in The Market Gardener book ‘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.
RESEARCH AND PREFERENCES:
- Your Micro Farm Goals:
- Do you want to be a micro farm selling a variety of produce at farmers market venues?
- Or, do you want to farm one or two large crops to start?
- Make a list of the farm foods you enjoy most.
- Identify the ones you’d most enjoy growing in quantities.
- Contact your local Agricultural Extension Office to ask about the local micro farm market:
- what crops are popular
- which crops are most profitable, all things considered
- who are some of the successful micro farmers in your area
- ask for any other tips they may share
- Visit your local farmer’s markets weekly:
- start networking with other local growers
- ask sellers their advice to a newbie
- support their farm by buying some goods from them while you’re there
- inquire about farm visits to the sellers most willing to share information
The Market Gardener Interview
The Good News
So we were thrilled to finally have the opportunity to interview with Jean-Martin, to connect and to learn from him directly and to share that conversation with you.
The 1.5 hour visit with Jean-Martin Fortier was absolutely fantastic. JM is very personable, engaging, warm, and a wealth of knowledge and wisdom.
The Market Gardener, Jean-Martin Fortier is a practical visionary with good business sense. His book, The Market Gardener, is a how-to-succeed textbook for aspiring micro farmers.~GardensAll.com
The Bad News
Technology is great. Until it isn’t.
We’ve been using the same video conferencing application for years now, and it’s been great. We’ve had two failed recordings in three years. They were all user errors. Mine.
This time… of all times, there was a failure in the rendering after the recording. That it was not user error didn’t make it any less frustrating.
We were horrified. We’d waited for an entire year to get to interview Jean-Martin. JM had been on an interview hiatus for all of the previous year to focus on his work and writing after traveling the world speaking and teaching. We were eager to share him and his knowledge with you.
We’re so sorry to have had this happen to Jean-Martin and for you, our readers/viewers, 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.
Turns out that the video was only able to render the first 2:55 minutes of an approximately 90 minute interview. We’ve left that intro here so you can hear Jean-Martin in person even if for a minute, and then we’ve written the rest of the interview from our memory and notes.
However, in the end…
“It’s just another bug on the windshield of life.”~Author unknown
Business is About Solving Problems
Stuff happens. Pests eat plants. Some crops fail. Systems fail. Technology fails. And… we keep on going and growing.
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.
We ranted and steamed and stewed… and… we recovered.
So Coleman and I immediately sat back down to decipher our notes and wring out all that we could remember from 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… if you can’t change it… in life and business, it’s time to recover and move on. And so it goes. Meanwhile, we’ve done our best to recount all that we discussed.
Speaking of recovering… here’s fantastic advice by a survivor of multiple life catastrophes. Hal Elrod. It’s the very best advice we’ve heard in our 60+ years on this planet. #Perspective
Hal’s tips for recovering from anything will also be linked it at the end of this article, along with the rest of Jean-Martin’s interview notes.https://youtu.be/2wXCM8J5Pjs https://www.plantingforretirement.com/backyard-farming/
Micro farming teaches planning, resiliency, adaptability, hard work, community and interdependency.
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 “techno-failure” interview with Jean-Martin Fortier, we recap the interview, while it was still very fresh on our minds.
Jean-Martin Fortier answered many important questions for anyone considering growing for profit.
We hope you’ll enjoy this recap. Even though it’s missing JM’s genuine and personable presence, it contains his wisdom.
Jean-Martin Fortier is a visionary leader for successful micro farming and an advocate for organic market gardening 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.
Micro Farming Topics Discussed:
- How JM and his wife, Maude-Hélène got started in farming.
- JM’s recommendation on how to start a small farm.
- The 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.
- The average hours per week farmers work.
- How much farm jobs pay.
- Farm manager wages.
- 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.
You can discover more details and notes on our interview with Jean-Martin Fortier, author of The Market Gardener here.
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.
Jean-Martin’s book contains thousands of dollars in lessons and experience and well over a decade of knowledge from a successful farmer. That’s better than any degree you could obtain, if your dream is to simply have a successful family farm.
More on The Market Gardener
Visit Jean-Martin and his Farm Resources
- Check out Jean-Martin’s Market Gardening Master Course.
- Visit the Training Farm Website – Ferme Quatre Temps
- For intern position applications.
JM can only take up to 10 paid interns to earn while learning on his new farm, so he created a Market Gardener Master Course. The master course includes 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.
“Our world needs more farmers.”~Jean-Martin Fortier, author-The Market Gardener
Thank you, Jean-Martin Fortier for being amongst those who are leading the way!
Neighbors Helping Neighbors… Farmers Helping Farmers…
Communities of old were strengthened by the tradition of neighbor helping neighbor. Education was largely kids learning from parents, neighbors, and older siblings. “High learning” was the opportunity to apprentice with 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.
While many communities today are online communities, they’re still a vast resource for information, assistance, encouragement and support. You can learn anything you want to know online today, including gardening and farming.
In these and many other online communities, knowledge and experience is freely shared, relationships formed and a genuine interest in each others progress. Virtual cheerleaders, educators, and good folks glad to share what they know and have learned through experience.
You know… the way it used to be.
The way it used to be is here again. We’re seeing a revival in neighbors helping neighbors… farmers helping farmers… of sharing, caring and learning from each other. A lot of that is happening online these days where community is alive and well.~GardensAll.com
Wishing you great gardens and happy harvests!
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 kept plants, been interested in medicinal herbs and nutrition and healing from food over pharmacy. I assist in our family gardening projects primarily (at present) through the sharing of information through our websites and newsletters.
As a family we’re steadily expanding our gardening, experimentation and knowledge around all things gardening, edible landscaping, fresh organic foods and self sustainability and hopefully, farming in our future. We thoroughly enjoy and appreciate the creative ingenuity of the GardensAll community. I also own and manage theiCreateDaily.com.